Daniel Ricciardo insists Renault is better than 15th-fastest despite struggling during Friday practice for the Spanish Grand Prix.
A number of teams used the day for aerodynamic testing to validate the upgrades that they brought to the first European race of the season. In the second session, Ricciardo was only 15th fastest during the qualifying simulations, but says the car feels like a clear improvement despite where he ended the day.
“It’s kind of an interesting one, because I thought out of the box this morning it felt quite good, and like everyone you bring updates here,” Ricciardo said. “Our reference was here in February, and I felt like we’d made some good progress. So the initial feeling was positive. We could not progress it too much more from there.
“So then the afternoon we tended to struggle on the one lap, but our long runs seemed to be better. I want to sound optimistic that we are not 15th, we are better than that, we just need to figure out the whole one-lap performance. There is a bit in balance, but there is something more fundamental. But the long run was positive. Tomorrow will be better.”
With Renault only seventh in the constructors’ championship at present, Ricciardo insists he still has full faith in the team’s potential following his move from Red Bull.
“How long have I been here now, five months? I’ve seen constant growth at Enstone and Viry and speaking to Cyril (Abiteboul). Everyone is pushing, and that is why to see us 15th today is like… I don’t think we are there and that is the picture. But we have to try and figure it out tomorrow, because we are better than that, and I just want to make sure we show it.”
Ricciardo said his long run pace convinced him that Q3 remains a realistic target on Saturday.
“I feel it is there,” he insisted. “The Haas were quick on one lap. They were quite a bit more in front, seven-tenths, so I don’t want to say we have an easy seven-tenths in the pocket. But there certainly is a handful there if we get it right.
“We can get it right, because I did feel in P1 that the car was handling pretty well, and from my reference from winter testing it had improved quite a lot. That is why I am confident it is there, we just have got to make sure we get it right in Q3.”