Daniel Ricciardo believes his new Renault team have made genuine pre-season progress, as the countdown to the season-opening Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019 continues.
Ricciardo rounded out the final day of F1® testing in eighth position on the timing screens in Barcelona on Friday.
Teammate Nico Hulkenberg headlined the French team’s pace, recording the fourth fastest time in testing – six tenths of a second behind pacesetter Sebastian Vettel in the Scuderia Ferrari.
“It’s been a pretty good week, and we’ve done a decent amount of laps with some consistent running,” Ricciardo said.
Renault covered a massive 961 laps around the Circuit de Catalunya throughout the 2019 pre-season, the third most of any team behind championship contenders Mercedes and Ferrari.
— Renault F1 Team (@RenaultF1Team) March 1, 2019
While Ricciardo understands it will still take time to match the winning duo on performance, the Australian believes his new team are on track with their 2019 targets.
“It will take some time to catch the front teams, but that is not what we expected to happen at winter testing, and we are very realistic about that,” Ricciardo said. “At the same time, it’s impossible to make accurate performance predictions.”
Nevertheless, the 29-year-old is as enthusiastic as ever heading into his home race, working with the team to continue improving the new R.S.19 for the season-opening round in Melbourne on 14-17 March.
“We still have work to do and things to improve on, and that’s what we’ll focus on now,” Ricciardo said. “We will dissect the data we’ve harnessed over the past days back at the factory. We are making progress, but the bigger steps will happen gradually going forward.”
“I’m heading to Melbourne feeling that I belong here, and I just want to go racing now!”