Daniel Ricciardo says the performance Renault was able to show at the British Grand Prix has eased any worries the team had about the potential of its car.
Renault was strong in Canada and competitive again in France, but the latter race saw McLaren solidify its position as best of the rest behind the top three teams. With McLaren then impressing in the Austrian Grand Prix and Renault failing to score a point, Ricciardo says the turnaround at Silverstone — where the Renault was quicker in race trim but couldn’t find a way past Carlos Sainz in the closing laps — was a relief.
“It was certainly positive,” Ricciardo said. “We had strengths and weaknesses over the McLarens. Honestly, looking back to (Austria), we’d take this result any day of the week. Even to be probably a little bit off of the McLaren, we’d still take it.
“But to have the qualifying and the race pace with them in such a short turnaround, I think that has given us a lot of ease, and a lot of comfort knowing that we are certainly not lost and we do have a race car which can compete.”
However, Ricciardo admits he was frustrated by Sainz beating him to sixth place after getting the better of an earlier battle with Lando Norris at Silverstone (pictured), as a safety car helped McLaren keep on car ahead of Renault.
“It looked like we were set for best of the rest — I knew Carlos had not pitted yet. Then I went past one of the big screens and I saw gravel. I thought if that is someone causing a safety car then I knew immediately the Carlos would get a free stop. Sure enough I saw ‘safety car’ on the dash. I was pretty frustrated because I felt that was just a bit unlucky, and then we fell back.
“The team made quite a good call to pit for the hard (tire). They knew that we were not going to get to the end on the mediums, so pitting under the safety car seemed a bit crazy but it was a really good call. It allowed me to go to the end.
“The restart was strong. I got a couple of cars in the first lap or two, then was able to hunt down Carlos. At the end a little bit frustrated — I was there but never really enough to mount a proper attack. So he certainly got a bit lucky with the safety car, but then he also executed a good end of race. I needed a little mistake from him, and he didn’t give it to me. So hats off to him for holding me off.”