Renault DP World F1 Team will line up tenth and eleventh on the grid for tomorrow’s Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with Esteban Ocon eleventh and Daniel Ricciardo twelfth in qualifying at the Yas Marina Circuit. Both drivers gain a position on the grid following Charles Leclerc’s three-place grid penalty.
While the qualifying result ends the team’s 10-race Q3 streak, the opportunity for a free choice of starting tyre for tomorrow’s 55-lap race, does offer some flexibility on the all-important strategy.
Both drivers ran late in Q1 on Soft tyres with Daniel’s first run putting him seventh with Esteban 0.079secs adrift in eighth. Daniel remained in the garage for the remainder of the session with Esteban attempting a second run to cover any improving cars.
For Q2, both drivers began on Mediums with Daniel tenth after his first run and Esteban twelfth. Daniel’s lap-time was deleted for track limits at the penultimate corner promoting Esteban to eleventh. The decision was made to attempt a second run on Soft tyres to push both cars into Q3. Esteban improved his lap but was out in eleventh with Daniel just 0.047secs behind his team-mate in twelfth place.
Daniel Ricciardo, #3, R.S.20-06, Q: P12, 1:36.406 FP3: P3, 1:36.877
“It’s a shame finishing twelfth today as we looked quick this morning with third and fourth and we were aiming for much higher than that. We got through to Q2 quite comfortably with just one fast lap on the Softs, but then we struggled to match the pace on both Medium and Soft tyres. I don’t think we know why yet, so we’ll take a look at it tonight. I don’t like starting eleventh, but we both have tyre choice tomorrow so that’s a positive from today as strategy is going to be key in the race. We saw last weekend how starting on the Medium tyres can pay off, so we have options tomorrow. It’s my last race with the team too and I want to make sure we end this on a high.”
Esteban Ocon, #31, R.S.20-05, Q: P11, 1:36.359, FP3: P4, 1:36.899
“We have to dig into that as it wasn’t quite what we were aiming for today. We’ve been in the top ten all weekend, third and fourth in Free Practice 3, and then we seemed to lose the rear, the grip and the tyres were not working as well as they have been. It’s something we need to understand because it’s been a solid weekend other than this session. It’s not all over, though, and tomorrow it’s all or nothing. We need to come back, we need to score good points and we do have the free starting tyre choice, which does give us something to work with. We aim to finish this season well and inside the points.”
Alan Permane, Sporting Director
“Obviously, it was a disappointing qualifying session for us. The car was working very well earlier in Free Practice 3, so we need to have a close look and learn from this. There were no particular balance issues but both cars were lacking overall grip. On the plus side, we will have a free starting tyre choice and we saw what can happen from eleventh on the grid last weekend. We will give everything in this final race to score a good haul of points and end the season on a positive note.”