The first qualifying session of the 2020 season delivered its verdict, with a mixed feeling for the Renault clan. On the one hand, McLaren-Renault ensures with the achievement in the regular of a brilliant as unexpected second line, where Renault stalls with a Q3 certainly, but in tenth position. In fact, the Rhombus couldn't convert a more interesting potential than it looks, and that is also the other satisfaction of the day.
Caught in his own trap by a yellow flag, Daniel Ricciardo relaxed his effort in Q3, when the Australian could claim a good time. The Renault driver will start tomorrow from tenth position, after having seen his R.S.20 hold the line against McLaren, Racing Point and the astonishing Ferrari, far from the mark today. Clearly, Renault has made progress, and it's a good place to start.
"With the yellow flag in our last attempt I had to ease off", confirms Daniel Ricciardo. "We know that we could have done better than tenths as we have shown since the start of the weekend. It is nevertheless positive to be in Q3, especially after our performance here last year. sign of progress. Things like this are out of our control, so it's a little frustrating, but it can sometimes happen. We will have to attack tomorrow and try to get into the top eight, if not better. "
Esteban Ocon, for his part, simply lacked rhythm for his return to Formula 1 and could not exploit the competitiveness of his car. The French was however at the level of his teammate in both EL3 and Q1, but it did not work in Q2. Points are still available provided you improve your performance.
"This is not the expected return", recognizes Esteban at the microphone of Canal +. "It's been a long time, but there is no excuse. Today we could have done better and we didn't do it. There are a lot of little details that we could have improved and we didn't was not successful. It was not a perfect weekend, we had small problems. We have to review everything, do better to be stronger tomorrow. There is no magic wand but normally we should have a good speed in the race. We saw it during free practice 2. We will try to go back up in the race and score points. "
McLaren-Renault performed well last year on this circuit today, with MCL35s able to grab a regular second row. The Woking squad could not have hoped for a better start to the season, with the prospect of an attack race and big points.
"We had our expectations for our place in the hierarchy, from the start, the Racing Points were extremely fast – so we never really thought we would have a chance to beat or approach them"says Lando Norris, fourth. "But when we cut the fuel and started qualifying, the car started to come alive and feel a lot better. This track last year was very good for us, we had good confidence in the car and so it’s okay for her so hopefully tomorrow’s race will go well. ”
Racing Point-Mercedes and Ferrari, however, were faster on the long relays in free practice, and could therefore regain the upper hand this Sunday. But the qualifying was a surprise, so it could continue.
"They [Racing Point] were definitely faster than us on Friday. Like I said, we weren't expecting that at all. I'm going to take it 100% for now, but even if I'm going to watch ahead of me in the race and trying to go ahead, there are a lot of cars behind us. Ferrari especially, their racing pace is very strong – for one reason or another, their qualifying pace is very far – but it's the same for Racing Point ", adds, realistically, the British.
His teammate Carlos Sainz Jr was also convincing with the eighth fastest time. Again, the points are playable.
"All in all, it's a great day for the whole team to see that we have options for fighting with teams that easily beat us last year", says the Spaniard, in reference to his future Ferrari team. "I had balance problems all weekend, especially in the fast corners where I was not very confident. But even if it's a Q3 with an eighth place and I went around qualifying with a used train, that means that in the race we can attack. "
"We have seen very strong cars, Racing Point, Alpha Tauri, Renault … but it is a relief to see that we can fight against these teams, even if we have to see if it is only on this circuit or also on those who have more aerodynamic support. It will not be easy, but it seems that we have a good pace and we must take advantage of it to see if what we do in qualifying can be reproduced on Sunday ", he specifies.
We will now have to wait tomorrow to assess the evolution of the hierarchy on long stints, but one thing is certain, our two teams have well-born cars. Strongly following!