Renault DP World F1 Team will line up with both cars inside the top ten on the grid for tomorrow’s VTB Russian Grand Prix with Daniel Ricciardo fifth and Esteban Ocon seventh in qualifying at the Sochi Autodrom.
Having knocked on the door of the top five all weekend, both drivers entered qualifying with hopes of delivering a strong spot on the starting grid for tomorrow’s 53-lap race.
Both drivers ran Mediums for their first run in Q1 with Daniel seventh and Esteban in the drop zone. A second run on Softs led to Esteban comfortably through in fourth and Daniel 0.093secs back in sixth.
Daniel’s first run in Q2 proved good enough for first place with Esteban in eighth. Daniel was safe with Esteban looking to find an improvement to cement his spot in Q3. A red flag with two minutes to go meant he had to abort that run, with a frantic restart to the session leading to a number of cars fighting for track position. But with others behind either out of the session or not improving, Esteban squeezed through in tenth and Daniel atop of the timesheets in a qualifying session for the first time since Q3 in Mexico 2018.
In Q3, Daniel’s first run put him fourth – 0.004secs from third - with Esteban, on scrubbed Softs from his aborted Q2 run, in seventh, 0.010secs from sixth. Daniel could not improve his second lap and settled for fifth with Esteban shaving a small amount of lap time on new tyres, but remained seventh.
Daniel Ricciardo, #3, R.S.20-01, Q: P5, 1:32.364, FP3: P10, 1:34.787
“Overall, I’m happy with fifth position for tomorrow. I knew we weren’t in contention for pole position, but after the Q2 lap it felt like third or fourth was in reach. That lap in Q2 was perfect, so I knew it was going to be hard to improve on that. I did struggle a little more in Q3 and probably could have improved my time, but I am happy with where we ended up. I haven’t normally been strong at this circuit so to be quick all weekend is a positive. We can definitely race tomorrow so it should be fun.”
Esteban Ocon, #31, R.S.20-04, Q: P7, 1:32.624, DNF, FP3: P4, 1:34.239
“I think it’s a very decent result today. We’ve shown great pace this weekend and it’s definitely been strong with the car performing quite well. On my side, I’m happy with the result and the car was really good through all three sessions. All in all, we’re in the fight for tomorrow, so that’s very positive. It’s great to be starting where we are, and we can have a look at the cars in front. We’re going to be in the mix to fight, so it’s going to be interesting tomorrow. I think anything is possible and we are in good shape to race.”
Alan Permane, Sporting Director:
“It was a good qualifying for us with Daniel fifth and Esteban seventh. It was action-packed through the field and across all three sessions. It’s nice to feel disappointed with fifth as, arguably, we could have been fourth with Daniel had he repeated his lap from Q2. That was almost a perfect lap and he couldn’t quite get there in Q3. We’re in good shape for tomorrow with both cars well inside the top ten. We’ll be looking for a very good points haul and to continue our decent form in races.”