Renault DP World F1 Team enjoyed a superb qualifying for tomorrow’s Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix with Daniel Ricciardo sixth and Esteban Ocon seventh under the lights at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Daniel pipped Esteban by the barest of margins with just 0.002secs separating the pair after a thrilling end to Q3.
It was a well-controlled session by the team with both cars beginning the evening by advancing through from Q1: Esteban needing just one run on Soft tyres – to save a set for Q3 – and Daniel progressing on two runs after finding traffic on his first effort.
Strategy played a key part with the team opting to attempt a qualifying run on Mediums in Q2 to allow starting tomorrow’s race on the preferred yellow-marked tyre. A red flag halted both drivers’ first runs, but a single-lap effort at the end proved good enough for Daniel to progress to the top ten shootout in fourth and Esteban in eighth; the Frenchman safe from the drop by 0.2secs.
Daniel’s first attempt in Q3 was on scrubbed Soft tyres and he put in the tenth fastest time on the first runs with Esteban taking sixth after his opening effort on new Soft tyres. Both drivers then ran late on new tyres for their final laps in Q3. Daniel found over a second in lap-time for a 1min 28.417secs with Esteban improving by 0.4secs on a 1min 28.419secs, just 0.002secs down from Daniel.
Daniel Ricciardo, #3, R.S.20-01, Q: P6, 1:28.417, FP3: P11, 1:29.684
“I’m happy with the top six today. It was very close, but I was pleased with my lap to put us up there at the top end of the timesheets. I used both new sets in Q1 so I only had one new set in Q3 and maybe with an additional run it could have been a little better. It’s still good, though, and I’m happy Esteban is up there as well. It’s important for the Constructors’ and we need to put pressure on Sergio [Perez] tomorrow. I think the race will be interesting. The compounds are softer than last year, so I’ll be surprised if it’s a one-stop tomorrow. I’m sure we’ll see some variety on strategy.”
Esteban Ocon, #31, R.S.20-05, Q: P7, 1:28.419, FP3: P12, 1:29.691
“The car felt awesome today and I’m very happy with our qualifying result. It was a good lap in Q3 with just 0.002secs between Daniel and I, which is almost as tight as it gets! Overall, we produced a good session and it was very well managed by the team. We got through Q1 on one set and then in Q2 we managed to qualify in the top ten on Mediums. It’s great that we have both cars in the top ten, but it’s not done yet. We know tomorrow’s race will feature high degradation and a lot is likely to happen. We’ll have to fight hard to score solid points tomorrow.”
Alan Permane, Sporting Director
“It was a good qualifying for us today with Daniel sixth and Esteban a close seventh. It’s even better from a championship perspective as we’re in front of the majority of our close competitors and that’s an excellent place to start the race. We will be starting on the Medium tyres, the same as everyone in the top ten, and that’s the right tyre for the race here with high tyre degradation expected. We’re confident of a strong race tomorrow with some differences on strategy expected. We’re aiming to score some good points with both cars.”