Daniel Ricciardo believes that the lap times he set on Friday at the French Grand Prix does not do justice to the upgraded Renault F1 Team package.
Renault has brought a host of chassis and power unit upgrades to its home race, in the hope of moving towards its top four Constructors’ Championship target.
But Ricciardo could only manage a best of ninth in Free Practice 1 at Circuit Paul Ricard, and then dropped out of the top ten in the afternoon session with a time only good enough for twelfth place.
The Australian believes that the timing screens could prove to be deceitful, with Renault’s upgrades improving the feel and performance of the R.S.19 in his opinion.
“Today was positive, although maybe the timesheets don’t reflect how the car actually felt,” said Ricciardo. “Across all our runs today, the car seemed good.”
Ricciardo admitted that he struggled to find performance on the soft compound tyres due to warm ambient and track conditions at Le Castellet, contributing to the 2.083 seconds gap to Practice 2 pacesetter Valtteri Bottas.
Track temperatures hit a peak of 52C in the afternoon.
Despite this, Ricciardo is confident that Saturday afternoon’s session may bring more joy – a repeat of his fourth place in qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix two weeks’ ago is, however, unlikely.
“Our soft tyre run in qualifying trim was slightly tricky, especially with high track temperatures and maybe we missed out a little there,” he added.
“It didn’t feel that far off, and I’m certainly optimistic for tomorrow.
“The upgrades seemed positive and we have some data to go through to find further improvements.”
Renault suffered problems in the morning session, with smoke rising up from Nico Hülkenberg‘s cockpit and suspected floor damage leading to a minor delay for Ricciardo after he ran wide at Turn 11.