Daniel Ricciardo was perhaps the standout performer during Friday’s practice sessions for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, with the Australian placing third in the afternoon session, behind only the two Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team drivers.
After the morning session was used mainly for data gathering, the Renault DP World F1 Team driver ended an unrepresentative seventeenth in the order, but a superb lap in the afternoon saw him end just eight-tenths of a second behind Lewis Hamilton and ahead of his former team-mate Max Verstappen.
Despite his strong lap, Ricciardo still feels there is more to come from the R.S.20 and is looking forward to the rest of the weekend at Silverstone.
“In the morning we did quite a bit of data gathering so we knew it wasn’t going to be totally representative,” admitted Ricciardo. “For the afternoon, we had a bit of a warm-up, made a change to the car, which worked, and it felt great.
“We had a good run on the Hard and then on the Soft as well. On that Soft run, we still missed out a bit in some areas, so there’s definitely more there. Our long runs also looked decent, so that’s a good base for Sunday.
“I think the wind direction is changing tomorrow, so we’ll see what happens there. Overall, it’s been a good day for us.”
“The car was clearly quite quick” – Esteban Ocon
Team-mate Esteban Ocon ran a different programme to that of Ricciardo so did not set the same kind of pace as the Australian, with the Frenchman ending up tenth fastest in both sessions.
Ocon says the R.S.20 felt good all day long so there is some positivity to take into the weekend, particularly after Ricciardo’s lap time in the afternoon session. He hopes to be able to replicate that kind of pace on Saturday and fight at the sharp end of the grid during Qualifying.
“The first thing we wanted to understand was the softer choice of tyres and that was an important area today,” said Ocon. “It looks positive and the car was clearly quite quick.
“Daniel’s run on the Soft was certainly fast, which is good as we both tested different things and it’ll be interesting to see the comparisons. Hopefully we can repeat that tomorrow. We had a few problems here and there, but nothing too crazy and the car generally felt reasonable all day.”
“It’s only Friday, so we’re not getting too excited!” – Ciaron Pilbeam
Ciaron Pilbeam, the Chief Race Engineer at Renault, was pleased that both cars had two smooth practice sessions on Friday, and although the third-placed time for Ricciardo was impressive, he acknowledges they need to be cautious to say they are going to be there for the rest of the weekend.
Like everyone one else on the grid, getting data about the soft tyre in the morning session was important for Renault, with the tyre comparisons taking place in the afternoon. Pilbeam says there is confidence that the car is working well, but they will need to see where they are in relation to their rivals when it matters on Saturday and Sunday.
“We’ve had quite a good day with both cars getting through their programs smoothly,” revealed Pilbeam. “Our focus in the morning was on various aero assessments and we spent some time in both sessions understanding the Soft tyre in particular, which is a step softer this week.
“We’re pretty happy with our work today. Everybody ran the same tyres in the morning session, but we have done something different with our tyres compared to most others in the afternoon, and it will be interesting to see how the consequences of that shake out through the rest of the weekend.
“Both drivers are happy with their car and as normal for a Friday, we have some work to do to find a little bit extra for tomorrow. Daniel’s Soft tyre run in the afternoon was quite quick, but it’s only Friday, so we’re not getting too excited!”