Renault noob Daniel Ricciardo believes his new team have made genuine preseason progress during eight days of testing in Barcelona, ahead of the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship season-opening Rolex Australian Grand Prix on weekend from 15 to 17 March.
Ricciardo rounded out the final day of F1 preseason testing at Circuit de Catalunya eighth position on the timing screens on Friday, while teammate Nico Hulkenberg headlined the French team’s pace, recording the fourth fastest time in testing, six-tenths of a second behind pacesetter Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari.
“It’s been a pretty good week, and we’ve done a decent amount of laps with some consistent running,” Ricciardo said.
Renault covered a massive 961 laps around the Circuit de Catalunya throughout the 2019 pre-season, the third most of any team behind championship contenders Mercedes and Ferrari.
While Ricciardo understands it will still take time to match the winning duo on performance, the Australian believes his new team are on track with their 2019 targets, “It will take some time to catch the front teams.”
“But that is not what we expected to happen at winter testing, and we are very realistic about that. At the same time, it’s impossible to make accurate performance predictions.”
Nevertheless, the 29-year-old is as enthusiastic as ever heading into his home race, working with the team to continue improving the new RS19 for round one in Melbourne.
He continued, “We still have work to do and things to improve on and that’s what we’ll focus on now. We will dissect the data we’ve harnessed over the past days back at the factory. We are making progress, but the bigger steps will happen gradually going forward.”
“I’m heading to Melbourne feeling that I belong here, and I just want to go racing now!” added the big smiling Aussie.
Ricciardo will line up on the grid at Albert Park for his 151st Grand Prix start, with Renault the fourth team for whom he has driven for in the top flight – HRT, Toro Rosso and Red Bull being the others.