What’s going wrong for Ricciardo after Renault F1 switch?
April 10 2019 , 3:03 pm
Renault hasn’t made as much progress as it thought
Daniel Ricciardo’s teammate has made a sad admission about Renault while the F1 team’s boss is down in the dumps over missed opportunities.
Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg says the team hasn’t made as much progress as it thought after a disappointing 2018 and boss Cyril Abiteboul admits a rocky start to 2019 has fallen short of expectations.
Renault finished fourth in the constructors’ championship last year and while it was hoping to make up ground on top dogs Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari, that hasn’t been the case in the opening two rounds of the season.
Ricciardo is yet to finish a race and Hulkenberg also retired in Bahrain after crossing the line seventh in the season-opener at Melbourne’s Albert Park.
The early-season struggles see Renault languishing in seventh in the constructors’ standings behind fellow midfield contenders Haas, McLaren and Alfa Romeo.
Hulkenberg believes while Renault’s engine has more power than the one which underdelivered in 2018, the work done to improve the chassis over the off-season is yet to pay dividends and the team is facing the same problems that hampered it last year.
“The engine side has improved a lot. I think car and chassis aero-wise, we worked over the winter but we still have similar problems,” Hulkenberg told motorsport.com. “So I feel there is where we really need to focus and come up with something better.”
Ricciardo has struggled to adapt to handling a different car to what he was used to at Red Bull and Hulkenberg said Renault was experiencing “similar” problems this season as last when it came to its response to striking kerbs.
Abiteboul will be especially frustrated by the tough start after securing a driver of Ricciardo’s quality to partner Hulkenberg. As has been the case in recent times, car troubles have crippled Renault’s campaign and prevented its drivers from reaching their full potential.
According to the F1 website, Abiteboul said 2019 has “fallen short of our high expectations” as he lamented the amount of points the French outfit has left out on the track in the first two grands prix of the year.
“Our overall competitiveness is good enough for our drivers to be racing in the top 10 and closer to the top teams than last year,” Abiteboul said. “But we have suffered from reliability issues.
“We move onto China with caution, but also with a resolution to really get the season going.”
Ricciardo is keen to put the disappointment of Australia and Bahrain behind him and is optimistic about what lies ahead at this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. He has seen some positive signs from the car and with more time behind the wheel he’s confident of improved performance.
“I’m certainly getting there in terms of extracting the maximum and getting more comfortable (with the car),” Ricciardo told Renault’s website. “These things do take time, but it’s good to iron out these details going forward.
“We’ll get there soon and sure enough and I’m confident we’re heading in the right direction.
We showed signs of that over the race weekend (in Bahrain), going from a struggle on Friday, followed by an improvement on Saturday to being in and amongst it on Sunday.
“The car clearly has pace, but for me, it’s about finding all of it. I feel there’s a lot more to come.”
The Aussie star has happy memories of China. After a DNF in Bahrain last year, he bounced back to claim his first win of the year in Shanghai and will be desperate to push for another podium this time around.