Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo says he wouldn’t like to make a guess at who is leading the midfield pack, as he says everyone looks capable of quick times.
Ricciardo, now driving for Renault after departing Red Bull Racing, was at the wheel of the RS19 on Wednesday. Putting in a grand total of 72 laps, his best time was 1:22.597 on the slowest C1 tyre as Renault continue to focus on baseline performance and reliability rather than chasing laptime.
“We’ve tried a few bits but we haven’t brought a new car to test two, so I guess I wasn’t expecting anything massive.” said Ricciardo as he handed the car over to Nico Hulkenberg at Wednesday lunchtime “For me, it’s just about getting more comfortable and I did basically a race simulation this morning so more laps to figure out where we’re at.”
Asked to have a guess at where he feels Renault lie in the pecking order, he said: “It definitely looks like it’s close in the midfield group. I would assume that the top three teams still have a bit of margin. I don’t know – if you look at Sainz’ time from this morning, even if it’s on the softest tyre, it’s still a 17.1. But you just don’t know what tyres or fuel loads anyone is on, and we’re just not going to know until Australia qualifying when everyone’s on the same and in the same conditions. At the moment, that midfield group looks close – everyone is able to do a low 17.”
“We’re guessing, and we’d like to think we’re at the front [of the midfield] but there’s no hard evidence yet that we are. The objective is to be fourth or better, but really it’s about closing the gap to the front guys and that’s not going to happen overnight.”
“Our target for this year is to close it in, close it in and try to develop the car. From speaking to Nico [Hulkenberg] about last year, he said the rate of development wasn’t as fast as they would have liked. So that’s another thing for this year: to understand what the car needs and to see it start happening a bit quicker. The team is expanding and building its infrastructure so that will also dictate how quickly we can pull or away or catch the others.”