The second time signed by Daniel Ricciardo Friday afternoon during the second free practice session of the Belgian Grand Prix confirmed a threat that feared Mclaren. Seeing the Australian's R.S.20 at such a level may have been surprising, but for the Woking team, it's obviously anything but a surprise. However, if the astonishment is almost non-existent, the fear is much greater.
In EL2, Lando norris and Carlos Sainz placed both McLarens in the top 10, finishing seventh and ninth respectively. The British team is therefore in the right wagon but sees an additional opponent join in the hunt for places of honor. The balance of power is all the more relevant as the two teams use the same engine block.
"It's a very different circuit and the car behaves differently in a setup with less downforce.", explains Carlos Sainz first to the hierarchy established yesterday. "You can see that some things are changing: Renault is looking super fast and we are looking pretty good. Frankly, we are happy with our performance. But yes Racing Point and this Renault seem dangerously too fast at the moment."
Renault comes out of a particularly difficult Grand Prix in Barcelona, where the Losange has never managed to settle in the top 10, either in qualifying or in the race. The variation in performance is largely linked to the very different characteristics between the Catalan track and that of the Ardennes, even if the French team can also count on some progress made with its single-seater.
"I'm not surprised at all because last year they were very fast here and at Monza", recalls Sainz. “In a configuration with little downforce their car seems to be performing really well. Coming here we knew they could be a very strong competitor. We have to keep focusing on ourselves, keep looking at why our car is quite good with little downforce but not as much as it should be. All in all we were in the top 10 in both sessions so we don't have too much to complain about. "
For Lando Norris, the other point that gives Renault the advantage on the Spa circuit is in the better agility of the R.S.20 in the corners at low speed compared to the MCL35.
"I think they are very good in the slow corners as usual", advances the British pilot. "This is where we struggle a lot, especially with the less downforce we have. I wouldn't say it's a surprise. He [Ricciardo] is always quick in FP2, that's usually where 'he's doing his quick laps. We've got a bit of work to do. But I've made a few mistakes without which I could have been a lot closer. So I think it's possible to do what he did , but the Renault is still very fast. "
Top 5 of FP2