Daniel Ricciardo believes that the Renault F1 Team is heading in the right direction with its 2019 Formula 1 car, after the team’s best weekend of the season in Canada two weeks’ ago.
Renault heads into the French Grand Prix, the team’s home event, buoyed by a fourth place for Ricciardo in qualifying at the Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve and a first double points finish of the season.
The French race will also give an indicator of Renault’s risky and extensive new chassis upgrade package, as it looks to put right the inconsistency that has dented its pursuit of the top three in F1 and, prior to the Canadian race, left the team languishing in eighth place in the Constructors’ Championship.
After Ricciardo and team-mate Nico Hülkenberg‘s respective sixth and seventh place scores Renault now sits in fifth, two points behind the McLaren F1 Team and 96 points adrift of third-placed outfit Red Bull Racing – the team it was hoping to make serious ground on in ’19.
“It was great to see the positivity on everyone’s faces after the race, we entered the season with a lot of expectation on us,” said Ricciardo.
“I think we’re really starting to come up and show our true pace.
“I’m glad the team enjoyed a strong weekend as it’s been stressful at times, but we kept working and now I’m optimistic this is the start of heading on the right path.
“There’s clearly a lot more work to do to catch up to our expectations, but fighting with the front three for a part of the Canada race was a lot of fun.”
Ricciardo is also relishing the prospect of the tamer challenge the Circuit Paul Ricard presents – relative to the previous two rounds in Monaco and Canada.
The Australian says that there will be “plenty of overtaking opportunities” through the 5.842km circuit, even hinting a return of the trademark Ricciardo “send”.
“We’re coming into Paul Ricard on the back of two non-permanent race tracks in Monaco and Montréal where the walls are tight and there’s little room for error,” Ricciardo added.
“The risks are a lot lower for France as it’s a very open circuit. It’s maybe a bit tame in comparison but, nevertheless, there are some long, technical corners to get through, which are a challenge.
“There are plenty of overtaking opportunities around the track to send one, so we’ll be aiming to be in a position to make the most of any chances.”
After a troublesome start to life with Renault, Ricciardo feels that he is beginning to find his rhythm with the R.S.19 in tandem with the upgraded performance on the chassis and power unit front.
“The target for France has to be repeating [Canada’s result].
“We have some upgrades, which should mean the start of a trend of our true pace. It’s coming along well and, as the car gets better, I’m also growing in confidence and I’ll keep getting better with it.”