Daniel Ricciardo feels the Renault DP World F1 Team are in ‘decent shape’ this weekend at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello, with the Australian ending the day up in fifth in the afternoon session.
Mugello is making its debut on the Formula 1 calendar in 2020 and Ricciardo was thrilled by his first experience of the circuit in a Formula 1 car, with even the longer runs on high fuel proving to be fun to drive.
Ricciardo hopes to emulate his Friday afternoon performance during Saturday’s all-important Qualifying session at Mugello, and he admits he would be very happy to place inside the top five again
“It’s so good to drive at Mugello,” said Ricciardo. “On one lap it’s fun but even on the long runs, which are normally a lot slower, there’s no holding back as it’s all high-speed. Turns 8 and 9 are nearly flat out on high fuel, so it’s quick and keeps you on your toes.
“I felt we picked it up today quite well. There were a couple of things to improve on in the morning, but we managed that well into the afternoon session.
“It looks like both cars are in decent shape. The timesheets look okay and, if we put ourselves in that position in qualifying, we’d be very happy.”
“It’s been probably one of the best Fridays of the year so far” – Esteban Ocon
Team-mate Esteban Ocon felt it was one of his best Fridays of the season so far, with the Frenchman ending up sixth fastest in both sessions despite it being his first time at Mugello.
Ocon said he knew the track was going to be ‘awesome to drive’ ahead of the weekend, and so it proved to be, although he is expecting for it to be a very physical challenge to the drivers, particularly on race day.
“It was a decent day for the team,” said Ocon. “It’s a new track for everyone, and it’s my first time here as well.
“It’s a fantastic feeling to drive at Mugello and it didn’t disappoint from expectation! When we walked the track yesterday, I just thought it’s going to be awesome to drive.
“It’s a great challenge for us drivers, quite physical, and it’s also going to be particularly tough on the tyres. We have plenty of performance to unlock for tomorrow. For me, it’s been probably one of the best Fridays of the year so far.”
“We just put our heads down and got through what we needed to do” – Ciaron Pilbeam
Ciaron Pilbeam, the Chief Race Engineer at Renault, says the team will not read too much into the times set on Friday, but overall, it was a positive first day of running at Mugello for both Ricciardo and Ocon.
Pilbeam believes the short and long run pace seemed to be good on both sides of the garage, and the two red flags during the afternoon session came at the right moments for Renault, with very little track time lost as a result.
“We try not to read too much into the times on a Friday, but it’s been a good day generally,” said Pilbeam. “It’s great to come to what is effectively a new circuit for us, but it doesn’t really change what we do on a Friday, and we just put our heads down and got through what we needed to do.
“The short runs were okay, and the long runs also seemed to be good. We had a couple of interruptions with red flags in the afternoon session, but fortunately for us they came at times where it didn’t affect out plans too much.
“As always, we’ve got a bit of work to do, but we don’t have any major concerns; we just need to do our normal Friday homework and come in ready and prepared for Saturday.”