Sunday’s race was a tale of two stories for Renault DP World F1 Team. The weekend as a whole was going strongly for Daniel Ricciardo. After getting third in free practice 2 and qualifying in fifth, the Aussie was in for a bunch of points.
The race started strong, only losing one position to Lance Stroll in the first lap and matching the pace of those round him. After pitting, Ricciardo took a spin in the aftermath of defending from Carlos Sainz Jr. which lost him a few places. He had to pit again due to tyre degradation from the spin and a chance for points was all but over, taking the checkered flag fourteenth.
“Today was just one of those days where things got progressively worse and worse. It was going okay at the beginning, maintaining sixth and hanging on pace-wise to the cars ahead.” Ricciardo added.
“We pitted for another Medium and I was struggling to hold onto them. We had to pit for the Hard and then it got messy at Turn 3 and I lost the rear defending from Carlos [Sainz] and had the spin.
“The race was done then. We have to accept it, take it on the chin and go again in Barcelona. It’s a frustrating one today, but there are lots of positives from the two weeks at Silverstone and we can draw on that looking forward.”
Esteban Ocon’s weekend also looked like it was going in a positive direction. Hanging around ninth and tenth in the practice sessions, it looked like Ocon would get himself into Q3 of qualifying.
Ocon’s chance of points looked to fade away after failing to get out of Q2 and qualify in eleventh. Things were made even worse when Ocon was given a three-place grid penalty for not getting out of the racing line when George Russell was on a flying lap, demoting him to fourteenth.
However, a strong start sent Ocon flying up to twelfth. Some strong tyre management and good overtakes meant the Frenchman climbed six positions to finish eighth.
Ocon added “That was definitely a very good Sunday for us. We made a solid start, managed the tyres well, received good communication from the team and it was a great pit-stop from the mechanics.
“It looked to be a very tough race in terms of tyres, especially on an aggressive strategy, but we managed to get that sorted and, in the end, we had a lot of pace. We just kept the tyres alive as best we could and managed to keep cars behind, so we’re very happy with the result. I don’t think we could have done much more from fourteenth on the grid.
“Our target is to qualify better – we have the pace for that – and then we can really fight for more points.”
Team Principal, Cyril Abiteboul, praised the efforts of Ocon for his position gain in a competitive field.
“Mixed feelings after today with one car in the top ten and the other outside the points. Given Esteban’s starting position, his race should be praised, gaining six places in a race like today in a very competitive field is quite something. He, and the team, made the one-stop work. It was perfectly executed by him, the pit-wall and the pit crew.
He wasn’t so happy with the contrast of Ocon’s race to Ricciardo’s and hope both drivers can be in the points come the Spanish Grand Prix next weekend.
“His progression in the race certainly contrasts with Daniel who was starting from fifth on the grid. His plan was for a two-stop. His first stint was strong, and we pitted him at the right time to avoid traffic when he exited. His second stint, though, was not competitive at all and we had to call him for an early stop, which compromised the rest of his race. He had a fantastic Saturday – outright fifth on pure pace – and also a good race last weekend. From his starting position today, we were clearly aiming for a better result.
“We need to assess that second stint and take that on board for upcoming races. Barcelona will undoubtedly see a repeat of hot conditions with similar high energy on the tyres from the high-speed corners. We’ve made a positive step in competitiveness in qualifying. We must confirm it next weekend and get on top of this counter-performance on the Medium compound. We must be able to do better even with tricky tyre selection.”