05/03/2019

Ricciardo & Hülkenberg keeping expectations in check

Wisely perhaps, new Renault F1 Team signing Daniel Ricciardo and team-mate Nico Hülkenberg are refusing to get overly excited about their prospects in this weekend’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
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Between them the pair clocked up 961 laps (4473km) during two weeks of pre-season testing of their R.S.19 car at Spain’s Barcelona circuit – only two other teams managed more with their new machines.

Much of the test was spent analysing performance on F1’s various tyre compounds along with differing fuel loads as a number of race distance simulations were put into practice.

The drivers, engineers and technicians also gathered sufficient data on a number of modifications that the team has had to make to satisfy F1’s new aerodynamic regulations – particularly with regards to cars’ front wing designs in an effort to increase overtaking opportunities.

After finishing fourth in 2018’s constructors’ standings, Renault is eager to improve performance all round with its new R.S.19 chassis and Renault E-tech power unit and close on the sport’s so-called ‘big three’: Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

Leaving Barcelona in readiness for this weekend’s opening round of 2019 at Melbourne, Hülkenberg and Ricciardo gave their thoughts on progress so far.

German Hülkenberg, seventh in 2018’s drivers’ championship, reflected: “I leave Barcelona feeling encouraged after a busy eight days in the car. We’ve made good progress as a team from last year in particular on the power unit.

“Our reliability has been decent; we had a few small issues here and there, but the team dealt with anything like that quite well and still managed a high lap count.

“We know the competition is extremely tight, but we only want to focus on ourselves. We head to Melbourne feeling relatively confident, but in the meantime, we have a lot of analysis to look at to ensure we maximise the potential from the car.”

For Australian Ricciardo, Melbourne is his home race. He has joined Renault after achieving seven grand prix victories with Red Bull.

He said: “It’s been a pretty good week (in Barcelona) and we’ve done a decent amount of laps with some consistent running.

“It will take some time to catch the front teams but that is not what we expected to happen at winter testing and we are very realistic about that.

“At the same time, it’s impossible to make accurate performance predictions. We still have work to do and things to improve on and that’s what we’ll focus on now. We will dissect the data we’ve harnessed over the past days back at the factory.

“We are making progress but the bigger steps will happen gradually going forward. I’m heading to Melbourne feeling that I belong here and I just want to go racing now!”