Renault apologise to Ocon after third retirement in five races at Imola
Renault celebrated their second podium in three races at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. But just as at the Eifel Grand Prix, it was Daniel Ricciardo who was spraying the champagne, while team mate Esteban Ocon was left to mull over another DNF, as he retired from the race with a suspected transmission issue.
Lap 29 of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix saw Ocon – who’d qualified 12th after failing to make it out of Q2 for the second straight race – pulling over to the side of the track and retiring his Renault R.S.20 with a gearbox issue.
The retirement unintentionally changed the shape of the Grand Prix, with the subsequent Virtual Safety Car allowing Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton an advantageous pit stop that sowed the seeds for his ninth win of the season.
Ocon, though – who’d been forced to pit early in the race after a visor tear-off lodged in one of his brake ducts – was probably more concerned with his third mechanical retirement in five races, with Renault Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul taking pains to make amends to his driver after the race.
READ MORE: Hamilton wins wild race in Imola as Mercedes clinch seventh-straight constructors' title
“I’d like to [apologise] to Esteban as it was another retirement due to a technical issue,” said Abiteboul. “He was not far off [in qualifying] and had a decent start to be in the mix despite the early stop to remove the tear-off from his ducts.
“He then suffered from an issue that caused some trouble with his gearbox and he had to retire. It’s a shame as Daniel has shown that when the car is working there is pace and competitiveness.”
Ocon has now suffered four mechanical retirements to Ricciardo’s one this season, partly explaining why Ricciardo – who finished the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix behind the Mercedes of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in third place – has 95 points and sits fourth in the drivers’ standings, compared to the 40 points of 12th-placed Ocon.
But Ocon was team-minded enough to praise Ricciardo’s second podium of the campaign, which helped move Renault into P3 in the constructors’ standings, one point ahead of both Racing Point and McLaren.
READ MORE: Ricciardo shocked to take 'surreal' Imola podium and share 'shoey' with Hamilton
“It was a tough weekend overall, with a succession of bad luck,” said Ocon. “We had a few issues this afternoon. We had a tear-off in the brake duct, which meant that we pitted early to take it off and then we had a gearbox problem.
“Nonetheless I’m very happy for the team today for this podium again, well done to Daniel,” he added. “We’re coming on strong and it bodes well for the rest of the season and months to come. We are third in the championship now; we knew this is what we are fighting for so it’s good to be ending the weekend like this.”