Renault F1 Team face another tough challenge going into Saturday at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
Nico Hülkenberg felt more comfortable in the RS19 than his team-mate but still found the soft compound difficult to cope, purely due to the amount of graining, an issue of which he found out in last year’s event.
The German was eleventh quickest in Free Practice 1 before setting his fastest time of Friday with a 1:18.261, a tenth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo. Hülkenberg’s combined total of forty-five laps may not be as many as his rivals but he remains adamant that he has had a “solid start” to the weekend.
“Today was quite reasonable for us. The sessions felt a little short with the red flags and our programme of running slightly later, but we got through what we needed to do and the car felt good from the get go this morning,” Hülkenberg said.
“The Soft is a challenging tyre and it’s quite similar to last year with graining an obvious problem. It’s quite difficult to manage but you do what you can out there. I felt comfortable in the car so, overall, a decent Friday and a solid start to the weekend.”
Daniel Ricciardo was not as comfortable with the car during the practice sessions, as he thought the balance was one of the weaknesses.
As optimistic as he is, he is uncertain of what Saturday will bring for Renault.
“We struggled a bit today for balance on the car. I wasn’t that comfortable this morning, we did make some small improvements and some progress this afternoon, but there’s still a lot more to do,” Ricciardo added.
“It’s not where we want to be at this stage. We still have a bit to gain, so we’ll see what else we have in the pocket overnight and into tomorrow.”
Engine Technical Director Rémi Taffin studied of what high altitude can do to the car, as cooling is a key area to focus on for the team in Mexico City.
“We got through the majority of the programme today. With the high altitude here, one of the principal concerns is cooling and we didn’t have any issues with it, either on the engine or on the chassis,” Taffin analysed.
“With no issues with reliability we were able to do enough laps to gauge performance. This morning it was a little hard to get going, but we made some changes before the second session and the car seemed to behave better.
“We missed a little evaluation of the medium tyre runs as both drivers flat spotted on their fastest lap, but we have a good basis to go forward this weekend. We know there is still work to do to get the car exactly as the drivers want and we can extract more, but we’ll look at everything tonight to see where we can improve.”