Renault DP World F1 Team experienced a challenging and disappointing Saturday in today's Qualifying for the Heineken Portuguese Grand Prix. Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon will line up for tomorrow's 66-lap race tenth and eleventh, respectively, following an extremely tight session at Portimao.
The morning's practice session saw a flurry of track action, as teams clambered for grip on the slippery Portuguese tarmac and attempted to make up any lost ground following yesterday's disrupted running. Both cars completed their fastest laps on the Medium compound tyres, with Esteban finishing tenth and Daniel fourteenth after he experienced a small issue with DRS scuppering his run on the Softs.
The start of qualifying was delayed by thirty minutes due to a loose drain cover at Turn 14. Both Daniel and Esteban, on Softs, progressed to Q2, placing tenth and thirteenth. Both cars then opted for Soft tyres again in Q2, with Daniel posting a 1min 17.481secs and Esteban just behind on a 1min 17.614secs. On a second set of Softs, both drivers looked set to improve, but a spin by Daniel on his final run meant he ran wide and kissed the barrier, leaving damage to the rear of the car. Daniel managed to recover his car to the pits and his previous time was enough to see him through to the final shootout, but Esteban just missed out on the top ten by 0.133secs, finishing in eleventh.
Despite the team's best efforts to salvage Daniel's car, he was unable to get back out for Q3 meaning he finished tenth without setting a time.
Daniel Ricciardo: "The track is hard to find a good balance on and I think the temperatures and wind changed quite a bit from this morning so that was also challenging. We had the small issue with DRS at the end of Free Practice 3, and I think our one lap pace wasn't the best this weekend. We got through Q1, but it was really tight between a number of cars in Q2 and then I had my spin at the end of the session. I do think there was still a bit more in the car, so it's a shame we didn't get out and have a go in Q3, but the guys did their best to try get me back out. It's all to play for tomorrow, so let's see what we can do."
Esteban Ocon: "It's a shame to be out in Q2 today, we seemed to have struggled a little bit with the car all weekend. We managed to get some decent laps in this morning, but it's tricky to find a good balance here and it seems to be the same for everyone. The wind also picked up and the weather changed a little bit from this morning, so I think that added to the challenge today in qualifying. Let's see what is possible for tomorrow, we have the free tyre choice and if we can get a good start we can still do well."
Alan Permane, Sporting Director: "Obviously we are a little disappointed today with only Daniel into the top ten and Esteban just missing out on Q3. We've struggled for grip all weekend and tyre temperatures have been difficult to manage. But that doesn't mean all is lost, and tomorrow is a very different set of circumstances with high fuel loads so this should help us a lot. We are very much looking forward getting both cars well into the points tomorrow."
Check out our Saturday gallery from Portimao, here.