Renault F1 Team began the VTB Russian Grand Prix weekend with an encouraging Friday practice at the Sochi Autodrom.
Nico Hülkenberg was the team’s quicker driver, finishing seventh in the morning session and eighth in the afternoon. Daniel Ricciardo was close behind Nico in FP1 in eighth and finished FP2 in fourteenth.
Alan Permane Technical programme notes
• The key area today centred around assessing the tyre compounds available here – the Soft, Medium and Hard – to monitor degradation and graining. Last year tyre performance was very variable.
• As expected, both drivers found limitations in the rear with the tyres overheating and falling away in the tight and more technical final sector.
• We made set-up changes to increase stability with Nico growing happier as the session progressed. Daniel hit the wall at Turn 10 at the end of FP1 causing damage to his rear wing and floor, which were subsequently changed for FP2.
• Nico and Daniel commented on a lack of grip in the early running of FP2, especially on the Medium and Hard tyres.
What we learned today:
We’ve made a decent start to the weekend with both drivers growing happier on their set-up direction. Tomorrow may well be wet, but we’re well-prepared.
Nico Hülkenberg, #27, R.S.19-04
Free Practice 1: P7, 1:35.740, 21 laps
Free Practice 2: P8, 1:35.026, 33 laps
Nico: “Friday was okay for us today. I like the track, it’s got a nice flow to it and it was good to be back driving here. Generally, it wasn’t a bad day. The car seemed in a reasonable place from the get go and I felt confident in the car straight away. I wasn’t as happy in the afternoon, we changed a couple of things on set-up, which we’ll review and look to improve. But, overall, it wasn’t bad and I’m feeling positive.”
Daniel Ricciardo, #3, R.S.19-02
Free Practice 1: P8, 1:36.287, 20 laps
Free Practice 2: P14, 1:35.370, 28 laps
Daniel: “It started pretty well today, but having the incident at the end of FP1 meant we lost a little bit of time in the afternoon. The mechanics did a really good job to fix the car so quickly. We have work to do but we’re not in a bad place with just a few things to clean up. I think I can improve in some areas so there’s more to come. The rears have a hard time here and we’re figuring out the right balance. I’m not too concerned, Nico had decent pace and I think we’ll be alright tomorrow.”
Alan Permane, Sporting Director:
“It was a fairly standard Friday and, with the exception of Daniel’s little excursion this morning, everything ran to plan. We’ve got a bit of work to do on the balance - we were happy with the car in the morning and made a few changes; some worked and some didn’t. We have some work to do overnight to assess what we can do to improve it for tomorrow. Overall, we’re generally happy with things.”