Daniel Ricciardo believes the arrival of an upgraded Renault engine for his Red Bull at the Brazilian Grand Prix will provide “clarity” on the team’s way forward in Formula 1.
Renault is to finally introduce its new power unit for Interlagos after using 11 of the 12 tokens available to it for development. Only Ricciardo will use it initially, with the plan for Daniil Kvyat’s car dependent on how effective the engine proves.
With the upgrade understood to be providing only an additional 0.14-0.16 second improvement in laptime, Ricciardo said: “I’m curious, but I’m not getting my hopes up. Renault said it’s not going to give me a whole lot of laptime, between a tenth and two, so if they say between one and two tenths, it’s probably more like a tenth. But I’m curious to know more about the driveability, if there’s something from it, whether it picks up the throttle cleaner, if there’s something here which can be positive, and that maybe helps tire wear or things during the race. This is something I’m more interested in.
“Driveability has at least got a lot better this year. I would say the first five or six races were quite a big problem for us. But as you get used to something, you get used to dealing with a few things, so maybe if this is a step forward in driveability, it will feel like two steps. Hopefully that’s an area we can gain on.”
Ricciardo will take a 10-place grid penalty for the change of power unit at an Interlagos track not expected to suit the car.
Aside from driveability, the Australian will be able to gauge whether the engine will allow him to remain close to his competitors on occasion.
“We’ll see what happens here as this is a proper horsepower track,” assessed Ricciardo. “Obviously losing 10 places is a big one, but if it keeps me in the tow of the guys in front and gives me a chance to race, then it might come good.”
For Renault, the system is an opportunity to build a platform for next season when it is expected to continue in some form with Red Bull, providing the latter’s owner Dietrich Mateschitz approves the agreement on offer after failing to do a deal with Mercedes, Ferrari and Honda.
“For all of us, as Red Bull, we’re still undecided what we’re going to do next year,” said Ricciardo. “So maybe if we do see something positive this weekend, something we could take forward for next year, it could give us an option, or some clarity on where we want to go. Also, in my position with two races left, we’re not fighting for a whole lot, and this is not a circuit where we’re expecting to be on the podium. So in a way there’s nothing really to lose from trying it, and it might give us some clarity or answers.”