Ricciardo says Renault ‘where we need to be’ for qualifying after promising Imola practice
After a relatively low-key showing at the Portuguese Grand Prix, Renault bounced back during practice at Imola, with Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon taking P6 and P7 in the single 90-minute session – leaving both drivers optimistic for their chances of a good qualifying.
Sixth-placed Ricciardo wound up 1.113s off the session-leading pace of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, and a tenth ahead of team mate Ocon, leaving the Australian feeling that Renault were “in the mix” for qualifying, having only got one car into Q3 last time out at Portimao.
FP1: Hamilton quickest as Verstappen splits the Mercedes in sole Imola practice session
“It was busy, but it was good,” said Ricciardo after practice. “I learnt the track, and then we did put in a decent time, so we’re pretty well set up for quali. Just going to go through a few more things now, but it’s a good track, it’s fun. I think quali’s going to be important. It’s quite narrow and tight and I think overtaking’s probably not the easiest, so putting in a good one in the hour session [in qualifying] will be important.”
Asked what run plan he’d adopted for practice, Ricciardo replied: “I did mostly light fuel, it was decent. Heavy fuel was a bit messy, there was quite a bit of cars preparing laps, so we didn’t really get a proper run on high fuel. But low fuel, we’re in the mix. We’re where we need to be.”
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Ocon – who at one point during practice drove through McLaren’s pit box by mistake – echoed his team mate’s positive sentiments, meanwhile, although he did lament not having more time to spend driving around Imola.
“I enjoyed it so much, to be honest, it’s so cool this track,” he said. “The grip, the flow, the kerbs, everything’s special about it, and I think it’s very, very enjoyable. It’s a shame that we only have one session and then quali straight away. This is a track where I thought having a Friday would have been nice! But I’ve enjoyed it, and the car is behaving well as well, so it’s a good sign for quali.”