Daniel Ricciardo felt the positions that both he and team-mate Nico Hülkenberg found themselves in at the end of Friday’s running at the Suzuka International Racing Course was unrepresentative of where the Renault F1 Team are this weekend in Japan.
The Australian was held up by traffic on both of his Qualifying simulations in the afternoon session, meaning he ended up down in seventeenth, just ahead of his team-mate, but he feels there is a lot more pace in his R.S.19 than shown on Friday.
“We focused on getting in as much running as possible today knowing tomorrow is off,” said Ricciardo. “We improved the car in the afternoon after a difficult morning and found some decent progress.
“We decided to complete some long runs and then short runs towards the end of the afternoon. Unfortunately, both low fuel laps were compromised with traffic – we’re better than what the timesheets say – and I don’t think we’re too far off from where we want to be.
“Hopefully we can have a good qualifying and then be in a better position to race on Sunday.”
Team-mate Hülkenberg said his R.S.19 felt better in the afternoon session than it did in the morning thanks to some changes made, and like Ricciardo, he feels the position of the two cars is not representative of where they should be after also encountering traffic.
“It was a tough Friday for us,” admitted Hülkenberg. “We made some changes between sessions that seemed to help. We had some balance problems with a lack of grip, especially in Sector One, but worked through it to end the day happier.
“The times aren’t strictly representative as we ran out of sync with the others. It’s a day off tomorrow with the typhoon coming in but we will look at everything in detail and be ready to go straight away on Sunday.”
Nick Chester, the Chassis Technical Director at Renault, felt it was a positive day for the team despite ending up towards the bottom of the time sheets. They were able to run an updated front wing for the first time and were able to find a good balance with both cars, with Chester hoping the team will be able to show its true pace on Sunday.
“Our pace on the long runs is actually looking pretty good, but we weren’t able to show our speed on the low fuel runs at the end of the session,” said Chester. “We got stuck in traffic around others who were on long runs, so ended up monkeying around a little bit.
“We ran the new front wing, which did improve the handling when we found the right balance and set-up. With the revised weekend schedule, we have to put it all together at the right moment, but leave some flexibility to adapt to whatever the weather throws at us.”