It was a good day for Renault as Nico Hulkenberg set the fastest time on the final day of the first Formula 1 preseason test at Circuit de Catalunya as the Renault driver set the fastest time and teammate Daniel Ricciardo revealing that he was feeling increasingly comfortable in his new team and their 2019 challenger.
Ricciardo continues to grow with his new machinery planting the third fastest time of the day, just under four-tenths off the pace.
The Australian also encountered problems of his own during his morning stint with the car but remains upbeat about his prospects.
“We didn’t put in as many laps as we’d planned this morning,” Ricciardo said. “It’s hard to ask too much in testing as far it never runs perfect – at least I have never been in a perfect lot of testing pre-season.”
Ricciardo said it was an encouraging first week with his new team, “I think yesterday, and particularly this morning was quite useful for me. Just going through set-ups and feeling like they actually did something to the car. That was quite positive.
“When a car is numb and doesn’t respond to changes, that normally isn’t a good sign. So after these four days, it feels [great].
“I’m feeling more and more comfortable each time I step into the car. The runs we were doing, they were shorter runs with more set-up changes, so that naturally took a bit more time, [but] on the whole, I think [we’re going] good enough.”
Meanwhile, later in the day, Hulkenberg posted the fastest time of the four-day test with a lap of 1:17.393 in Barcelona, before a mechanical issue on his very next run cost the team vital track time.
The German summed up, “We didn’t get as many laps in as we’d have liked. But that’s part of testing, and these things happen. It was a shame to stop on track to close our day, but we will be looking into that to see what happened.”
Despite the mechanical setback, Hulkenberg was still pleased with the car’s improvement ahead of the season-opening Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019 in Melbourne on 14-17 March.
“We had some good running today. It was nice to get a feel for the car on shorter runs and assess its behaviour and different set-up preferences,” he added.
F1 pre-season testing resumes next week with another four-day stint at the Circuit de Catalunya from 26 February to 1 March.