Renault DP World F1 Team completed a solid day’s running in Friday practice for this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix on the fast, sub-one-minute, outer Bahrain Circuit. Esteban Ocon ended the day in fourth with Daniel Ricciardo eighth on the timesheets.
There was plenty to learn in practice on the relatively unknown outer layout, which features just 10 corners with lap-times below 55-seconds. On the to do list was allowing the drivers to learn the new configuration and find the optimal balance on car set-up, which was targeted towards lower downforce.
Both sessions took place in the evening under artificial lighting with temperatures mirroring that from last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix at the same venue.
Free Practice 1 saw both drivers assess the Soft (C4) tyres, while in Free Practice 2 both cars began on Mediums (C3) before assessing the Softs on low fuel. The team ended the day with high fuel running on both cars with evaluations across the Softs and Mediums in race trim in preparation for Sunday’s 87-lap race.
What we learned today:
The new layout is a challenge despite its length, but we’re pleased with our work today and we move onto tomorrow looking to extract more pace.
Daniel Ricciardo, #3, R.S.20-01
Free Practice 1: P9, 0:55.379, 39 laps
Free Practice 2: P8, 0:55.124, 47 laps
Daniel: “It’s been a good Friday for us. The track is obviously very short, but I quite like it, and I’d say that the new section in the middle is my favourite bit. We’ve done quite a few laps here now so it’s nice to have something a little different. The afternoon session was strong and then we experimented a little bit in the evening. Esteban’s pace looks good as well, so I think we’ll be set for a good qualifying tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it and we have to make sure we’re on it tomorrow to underline today’s pace.”
Esteban Ocon, #31, R.S.20-05
Free Practice 1: P7, 0:55.273, 49 laps
Free Practice 2: P4, 0:54.940, 50 laps
Esteban: “It was a good day for us and probably the best Friday of the season on our side of the garage. We had good performance in FP1, and we found a bit more in FP2 where we made a step and we’re pleased with that. The long runs in FP2 were decent and I had some battles with some other cars, so that was fun. It’s promising for tomorrow when we need to put everything together and make it happen. The new track is very technical and very different to last week. We’re on lower downforce and we’re arriving quicker into the corners, but I think we’ve adapted quite quickly to it.”
Ciaron Pilbeam, Chief Race Engineer:
“We’ve had a very good day. Both drivers were quite comfortable in the car right from the start of FP1. We’ve been chipping away at the car balance trying to get more performance from it but, generally, it’s been pretty good on both short and long runs. It’s a short lap and the traffic, today at least, wasn’t quite as busy as we thought it would be. Qualifying will probably be busy and crowded, especially Q1 with all the cars out there. We tried something in the afternoon on Daniel’s car, which maybe hasn’t worked out so well, but it didn’t hamper him too much and it’s an easy thing to go back on. We’ve had a solid day, we’re in good shape and we’re looking forward to tomorrow.”