Daniel Ricciardo highlights Nico Hulkenberg’s performance during Friday practice for the Australian Grand Prix as encouraging for Renault.
Following a difficult first practice session, Hulkenberg ended FP2 in seventh place, just 0.07s ahead of new teammate Ricciardo. Despite the close headline lap times, the Australian says it is the long-run pace that caught the eye more, with Hulkenberg showing he is more comfortable with the car at this stage.
“It was a bit more of a difficult day,” Ricciardo said. “Then we got the one lap in with the soft tire at the end in FP2 which put us in a more competitive place. But the long run was not that good so we were a bit up and down.
“There is still quite a lot to learn with the car — still some ways to set it up, a few little tricks here and there. Nico has a bit more knowledge with that, so I’ll just try and understand a bit of that direction as well. For now I will probably learn a few things from him and maybe as time goes on he might learn a few things from me.
“The car does not look too bad for now. His long run looked better than mine — actually quite impressive, so that is positive.”
Ricciardo says Renault would be satisfied if it can repeat its Friday performance during qualifying and get both of its cars into the top eight.
“I think that would be OK if both cars could be in the top seven, top eight. I think that would be a good start to the season, but I really don’t know what to expect tomorrow,” he admitted. “You look at the field and it’s a bit strange. You see the Mercedes and the Red Bull at the front. Ferrari I expect to get up there tomorrow. I don’t know if they had any issues this afternoon or if they just running high fuel, or they are just not fast.
“It’s crazy around here. Then you see Kimi (Raikkonen) up there in sixth. It’s going to be quite close tomorrow, I think. Getting that clean lap could change three or four positions. Maybe one or two tenths.”