Renault DP World F1 Team completed a complicated Friday practice for this weekend’s first Portuguese Heineken Grand Prix since 1996, as drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon got to grips with the ebbs and flows of the Portimao circuit.
Daniel finished ninth in Free Practice 1 and thirteenth in Free Practice 2 with Esteban ending nineteenth in the first session and ninth in the second practice.
Both Daniel and Esteban used the first practice session to acclimatise to the circuit, with the extreme elevations and undulations, as well as low levels of grip providing a unique challenge for the drivers. Daniel completed his fastest lap on Mediums with Esteban sticking solely to the Harder compound tyre.
Free Practice 2 was more disjointed with numerous red flags in the final half of the session leaving very little time for low fuel runs. The beginning of the session also saw all teams testing prototype 2021 Pirelli tyres, before focus could shift solely on optimising the car for tomorrow.
The weather has held true so far with the sun beating down on the Portuguese tarmac, but a small threat of rain looms for the race on Sunday.
What we learned today:
As the track has been recently resurfaced the levels of grip were extremely low and so it was challenging to get the tyres into their optimum window of performance.
Daniel Ricciardo, #3, R.S.20-01
Free Practice 1: P9, 1:20.058 27 laps
Free Practice 2: P13, 1:19.987 28 laps
Daniel: “The track is really cool and it’s very up and down with a lot of blind spots. The surface is a little difficult to drive on currently with very low grip as it’s quite new. But it’s obviously the same for everyone. I think overall it was a little frustrating today and we didn’t get a lot of good running done. We’ve got some homework to do tonight that’s for sure, but I think we’ll be okay. I think tomorrow will be luck of the draw when it comes to getting a clean lap and managing the tyres.”
Esteban Ocon, #31, R.S.20-04
Free Practice 1: P19, 1:21.673, 31 laps
Free Practice 2: P9, 1:19.496, 32 laps
Esteban: “Today we were discovering a new track and a new venue, so it was very busy! The track itself is a bit like a rollercoaster, with so many ups and downs and it’s good fun to drive. We did struggle a bit today and I found that straight away there was just no grip, it’s like nothing I’ve driven before. And then we obviously had the tyre test which limited some of our running in the afternoon. The grip is completely different to what we are used to so we’ve got to maximise it the best we can tomorrow.”
Ciaron Pilbeam, Chief Race Engineer:
“It was a more difficult Friday than usual. The track grip was very low in the morning practice session, and the cars were sliding around quite a lot. Grip was still low in the afternoon, and even on the softer tyres the warm-up was slow and our car was not as well-balanced as it has been recently. The tyre testing that all teams took part in at the beginning of Free Practice 2 ran smoothly for us, but the remainder of the session was quite broken up by two red flags, and along with everyone else we missed a lot of our usual running. It wasn’t our best Friday, but we know what we need to focus on to get the most out of the car and the tyres for qualifying tomorrow.”