After a difficult outing in Azerbaijan, Renault were hoping ‘a number of reasonable upgrades’ – including the early introduction of a new-spec power unit – would bring them a welcome boost in performance in Spain.
But while Daniel Ricciardo was able to steer the revised R.S.19 back into Q3, team mate Nico Hulkenberg fell at the Q1 stage for the third time in five races after ripping the front wing off his car following an early trip into the gravel.
Nico Hulkenberg: 'If you make mistakes, you pay for it'
“I could have definitely got into Q2,” rued the German, whose tally of 2019 Q1 exits now surpasses that of the entirety of last season.
“It was not great, obviously, going off on the first run there. I lost the new-spec front wing as well, so for the second run we had to revert back. The car felt quite different and I felt quite a loss of downforce.
“Definitely that that cost quite a bit of performance, otherwise I think I would have got into Q2. But there you go – if you make mistakes, you pay for it.”
Having finished seventh in the opening round of the season in Australia, Hulkenberg – who will line up 16th in Barcelona - has since enjoyed few positives.
“We’re lacking a bit of pace and harmony in the car at the moment,” he admitted. “We’ll give it our best tomorrow and aim for a better result.”
Daniel Ricciardo: 'A good afternoon' despite issues
Team mate Ricciardo also faces a challenge to score points in Sunday’s race, despite his Q3 exploits, with the Australian dropping to 13th on the grid as a result of a penalty his picked up in Azerbaijan.
“We did a pretty good job to get into Q3 today,” he said. That was the target and I certainly felt after yesterday we had the potential to achieve that. We probably could have been slightly higher in the order for Q3 but I lost the rear out of Turn 13 on the second run and lost some time.
“That stopped it from being a really good session, but, in any case, it was a strong effort today. We have the penalty to add, but we’ll get our heads down in the race and look for points.”
Renault are currently seventh in the constructors' standings, one point behind Alfa Romeo.