Daniel Ricciardo says his top-three performance in practice for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix was “genuine” as he suggested Renault had found a “big step” with its Formula 1 car.
The Australian is coming off the back of a fourth-placed finish in last weekend’s British Grand Prix, and was left encouraged as he ended up best-of-the-rest behind Mercedes in Friday running at Silverstone.
And, while he accepts that Renault is not in a position to expect to match that form throughout qualifying and the race, he says there is some optimism about what the team found with his car on Friday.
“I think that was genuine, at least for the track conditions,” said Ricciardo, when asked about his pace.
“We did a few changes through the session and I really felt a big step, you know, with one of the changes we made.
“I was: ‘alright, this is a pretty good race car right now’, so yeah, I think we can hang in there. We’ll see.
“I mean, if we are here in quali I think that would still exceed what probably our expectation is now, but I think we can still do a very good job.”
Ricciardo was not getting too carried away though, and he thinks a change of wind direction that is expected for Saturday could have the potential to shake things up.
“The big thing is tomorrow, the wind is changing 180 degrees by the looks of it, and it’s going to pick up,” he explained.
“People at home will go, ‘so what?’ But that is going to change the balance and the cars a lot.
“So I think tomorrow there might might be a different story and there’ll be a few other things going on, but we certainly put ourselves in a good place today.”
Ricciardo is also mindful about the impact of the tyre strategy headaches that teams are going to face on Friday night, with the soft tyre degrading quite heavily.
“Yeah, the soft is…it’s an interesting tyre – that’s probably the best way to put it,” he said.
“I was surprised that it held on for most of the lap.
“I don’t think many people are going to want to do much with that tyre for the rest of the weekend, or at least when it counts.
“I think even Lewis and Valtteri [Mercedes drivers Hamilton and Bottas] did a bit of a compare and Lewis had had a bit more time on the medium than the soft.
“So I think that’s probably where that’s gonna go, but that’s cool you know: throw another spanner in the works.”