Renault Sport F1 Team suffered a “tough qualifying” for the 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix with neither car making the top ten and Daniel Ricciardo likely to start last following penalties.
Nico Hülkenberg could do no better than eleventh, lapping the Hungaroring in a time of 1:16.565, almost a full two-seconds off Max Verstappen‘s pole-position time.
Although the German failed to make Q3, he’s eyeing his free choice of tyre compound as the potential key for moving forward during the race.
“Starting eleventh tomorrow certainly isn’t a bad thing,” said Hülkenberg. “We have some flexibility on strategy with the free tyre choice.
“The last lap in Q2 was tricky, and the difference in qualifying is so small in the midfield. It’s not a bad day for us and I think we can have a strong day tomorrow.”
Renault’s bad day was cemented however, by Daniel Ricciardo’s surprise exit in Q1, having finished qualifying in eighteenth with a lap-time of 1:17.257.
The Australian’s poor result wasn’t solely down to a lack of pace however, with a controversial moment with the Racing Point car of Sergio Pérez occurring in the closing seconds of Q1; with a string of cars lining up at the final corner to launch into their final flying laps of the session, Ricciardo attempted to jump the queue, baulking Pérez who in turn held up Ricciardo.
“The car actually felt OK,” said Ricciardo. “We got caught in traffic and when I got to the last corner there were other cars that were backed up. At that stage you have a choice of trying to pass and keep your tyre temperature up or hang back and start the lap with cold tyres.
“I tried to go, but it was too late and then the lap was compromised. It’s going to be a tough race but tomorrow is another day so let’s see what happens.”
Things are likely to get worse for Ricciardo with the team looking to change his power unit before the race, meaning he’ll take a grid penalty and start last, as Renault’s sporting director Alan Permane explains.
“It was a tough qualifying,” said Permane. “Nico got what he could from the car and there are certainly advantages from this starting position.
“Daniel’s P18 in qualifying is however a hard one to take. The track evolution is significant over a session, but waiting until the end leaves the door open for traffic.
“Daniel had time to back off, but was perhaps not aware of the extent of the situation.
“Given we are towards the back we will use the opportunity to change his PU and take penalties to avoid taking them at a race where there is perhaps more potential to make up ground.
“Nevertheless we will approach the race tomorrow looking for every opportunity to move up and leave with some points on the board.”