Daniel Ricciardo says the Renault F1 Team still has “lots to learn and improve on,” following Friday practice for the Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix, but that the team is getting there.|
Ricciardo joined Renault ahead of the 2019 season, having spent five seasons with the Red Bull Racing squad, where he won seven Grands Prix, in the knowledge that he would not be challenging for wins and podiums immediately, but building the team towards that target in future seasons.
The Australian posted a total of 47 laps over Friday’s two practice sessions around the Albert Park street circuit, with his best time coming in the afternoon session, where a lap time of 1:23.664 was enough to secure eighth place, just 0.070s behind team-mate Nico Hülkenberg‘s best time.
This followed a quiet afternoon for Ricciardo, where he only completed 11 laps, languishing in seventeenth place in the timesheets, in amongst the backmarkers as he battled with seatbelt issues.
“It’s been a busy week with a big build-up so to get Friday practice completed is nice. We had some consistent running in Free Practice 2 and I was certainly growing more comfortable on each run,” he explained.
“We still have lots to learn and improve on, but we’re getting there. For me, it’s about developing the understanding of the car and we’ve made a good start on that today. Qualifying will be interesting tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it.”
After narrowly securing fourth place in the 2018 constructors’ championship, Renault is looking to close the gap to the big three teams in F1, Mercedes AMG-Motorsport, Scuderia Ferrari, and Red Bull, the so-called ‘Class A’ runners.
Following the regulation changes over the winter that affect the front and rear wings and the bargeboards, pre-season testing indicated that the so-called ‘Class B’ outfits, whom Renault is hoping to pull clear of in 2019, had universally closed the gap to the leading trio.