Renault F1 Team gathered important data from both Friday practice sessions at the Circuit of the Americas for the United States Grand Prix.
Daniel Ricciardo discovered the bumpy nature of the track on his way to fifth fastest on the soft compound tyres in Free Practice 1, 1.2 seconds off the pace.
By the time virtually all the drivers had a go on that type of tyre in Free Practice 2, the Australian would end up eleventh with a time that was four tenths off seventh place Pierre Gasly.
Ricciardo touched on the bumps when he was out on track, as he prefers a track that adds that kind of challenge.
“The morning session was pretty smooth but, in the afternoon, it seemed like others found a bit of pace,” Ricciardo added.
“We’re not far off and I’m sure we can find a bit more. We’ll go through it all to find out which areas we can improve, but I think it’ll be small things. It’s good to be back driving here; it’s a great track, although it’s very cold!
“Clearly, people were talking about the bumps today but it is what it is. I prefer it like this, rather than it being completely smooth; it all adds to the enjoyment factor and the challenge.”
Nico Hülkenberg found his running less comfortable, as the German was sixteenth in Free Practice 1 and nearly a full second adrift of his team-mate.
Thirteenth was the best he could manage in the afternoon session, as a lack of rhythm was what he stated as the reason for his qualifying simulation difficulty. Hülkenberg though, found his long runs more promising.
“Our long runs certainly felt good, however, on low fuel, it was difficult to get in a rhythm,” Hülkenberg said.
“Hopefully we can find a balance there but, overall, the baseline isn’t too bad. The midfield looks quick and tight again, so it’ll be about extracting everything and being at the top end of that.
“The track is pretty bumpy, but that seems to happen year on year here. It gives it some character and makes it interesting in places. It’s part of the challenge in Austin and we have to cope with it.”
Executive Director Marcin Budkowski studied the RS19’s performance on track, particularly with a prototype compound tyre that is set to be used for next year.
“Free Practice 1 was a bit tricky with the very low track temperatures, which weren’t quite representative of what we’re likely to see for the remainder of the weekend,” Budkowski quoted.
“We still had a productive morning evaluating the 2020 prototype tyres, which we ran again in the afternoon. We couldn’t find the perfect car balance in Free Practice 2 with the changing wind direction and both drivers didn’t put a clean lap together on their low fuel runs, so there are a few tenths in hand on both sides of the garage.
“Overall, it was a pretty decent day, especially as our pace looked strong on the long runs. As usual, it’s a very competitive midfield and we will need to get everything right to reach Q3 tomorrow.”