Daniel Ricciardo says the whole Formula 1 grid appeared to have strong potential during the first pre-season test, after Renault ended the week with the fastest overall time.
Nico Hulkenberg posted a 1m17.393s on the final afternoon to register the quickest lap of the week, but the second- and third-best times came from Toro Rosso and Alfa Romeo respectively. Ricciardo was just under 0.1s ahead of the lead Mercedes on the same tire compound as a number of teams showed solid pace, and the Australian admits it wasn’t just the performances of Mercedes and Ferrari that caught his attention.
“I can’t remember what last year’s testing was like, but I feel like everybody has the ability to be quite quick this week,” Ricciardo said. “Toro Rosso, even if that is with no fuel, a 1m17s still is quick. It is kind of just gauging where everybody is.
“I was having a look on track, just trying to see little things, how cars can take the curbs or how the traction is. I was here and had a bit of free time. Alain (Prost, four-time world champion and Renault advisor) said he was going around the track and I thought at least it was an excuse to get away for a bit, and at least I can spend time with him. So that is always useful, a bit of multi-tasking.
“At Red Bull you looked at two teams and that was pretty much it. There are a few more cars around us this year. I am still very curious to know what Ferrari and Merc and those guys are doing. If I had to put money on it, Ferrari have been the most consistent all test, but even after next week we are not going to know until Melbourne.”
While looking at more than just the top two teams from last year, Ricciardo says the overall strength of the field makes it hard to gauge where Renault sits in the current pecking order.
“It has not been that obvious. I feel like it is decent, but everyone has a pretty decent car at the moment. To be in the 1m17s and 1m18s, you are humming. Turn 3 would be flat and Turn 9. The cars probably aren’t doing that much wrong but it is hard to pick a (competitive order).”