Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, Spa-Francorchamps, 2020

Ricciardo believes Renault’s Spa set-up breakthrough will work on other tracks

2020 Belgian Grand Prix

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Daniel Ricciardo believes the breakthrough Renault has made with its low-downforce performance will also deliver results at tracks which demand higher downforce levels.

The Renault drivers finished fourth and fifth at Spa last weekend following changes the team made to its RS20. “A set-up on the car is working better and it’s giving the car a lot more grip, basically,” Ricciardo explained.

The team began to unlock the car’s performance at the British Grand Prix, he revealed.

“There’s definitely something we picked up the first weekend in Silverstone on the set-up,” he said. “Like a sweet spot. We felt like we found that.

“In particular I found it, in terms of feeling in the car, as ‘right, this is where we need to run the car’. And we played around a bit [at Spa] with it.

“There was one session, I think it was in second practice, where I was like, ‘okay, we found the sweet spot’. So there is something fundamental which I think we’ve got a good choke-hold on.”

This weekend’s race will take place at Monza, another track which demands a low downforce set-up. But Ricciardo believes the new approach will also work at more conventional tracks later in the championship.

“I think we can get it working on high downforce,” he said. “This set-up is not typical to low downforce. We can run it on all levels. It’s just finding what works best with high downforce. We found that with these medium [tyres] and it certainly brings the car alive.

“So that’s something which I’m pretty confident is where the RS20 likes to be run. And I’m not sure we had we had something like this, a real discovery like this, last year. So that’s been encouraging.”

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Ricciardo set the fastest lap of the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of the race. He did so despite not pitting for a fresh set of tyres, though his crew did ‘turn up’ his engine at the end, over the objections of the team’s managing director Cyril Abiteboul.

Ricciardo said it was “certainly surprising” to find himself in contention for fastest lap.

“I knew we would have a decent car but when I heard the lap times that the Mercedes was dropping off to I [thought] OK, maybe everyone’s just saving their engines and whatever. But it sounded like they were genuinely struggling a bit and we were just getting faster and faster. And we had to deal with some traffic.

“I think they all kind of had their gaps and didn’t really have a hard time on their tyres. So it was really encouraging. The pace at the end took me by surprise, although I was getting quicker and quicker.

“My engineer told me what the fastest lap was and I think it was about half a second quicker than what I’d done. And I was like, maybe if I could use a bit of the battery, maybe we can get it.

“On the last lap, about halfway around the lap, I used every bit of track I could and I was like ‘I’m going for it, I’ve gone this far now, I’m just going to put it all on the line’. So that lap probably scared me more than Q3.”

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14 comments on “Ricciardo believes Renault’s Spa set-up breakthrough will work on other tracks”

  1. Let’s hope that is true. It certainly is more fun when the Renault cars are on the pace to offer a bit of a fight for the midfield. And give any of the top 3 who falter a harder time ending back up on the podium.

  2. entering into speculative territory here:
    I think Renault have been getting the better of McLaren since Lando’s podium in Austria. They are closing the gap to RP as well (thanks to minus 15) but the Renault vs McLaren battle hasnt exactly fizzled out yet with both showing moments of strength at different tracks.
    Still a long way away from the end of the season, but should Renault edge out McLaren this season (hopefully with more on track than DNS like Spa) Daniel might be left scratching his head about his move to McLaren. Its is a interesting problem to have though–whats better? Renault that beat an improving McLaren in 2020 or the McLaren that will be fitted with a more powerful (overall) Mercedes engine ??!!

    1. Renault has been flattered by the tracks so far, Silverstone and Spa hugely favoured their engine advantage but McLaren clearly holds the upper hand on more traditional circuits – and they’ll comprise most of the calendar next year. Aerodynamically speaking, Renault is still a long way off and McLaren, especially Sainz experienced a chain of rather unlucky events – they need to pull their act together operationally, but come Mugello, Nurburgring, Algarve and Imola, they should be back at their strongest. Renault, on the other hand, has issues with downforce-dependent tracks, so you’re jumping to conclusions with Ricciardo and his judgement too quickly.

      1. @pironitheprovocateur
        I was just speculating. Sort of a what-if scenario. Dont want to conclude anything so early.
        Yes, i agree that Mclaren do well in the more traditional circuits that aren’t excessively reliant on power.
        No guesses for who’ll do better. But they better pull their act together like you said.
        They need to be fighting with the likes of Sergio, Lance and Albon for P4/P5. Not with Pierre for P7/P8.
        Here’s hopeing that they can do better at Sochi if not at Mugello.

      2. @pironitheprovocateur Ricciardo is saying here the new-found setup sweet spot should work in high downforce configuration as well.

  3. Gary Anderson said that Renault begin to gain performance when they tried lower downforce than simulations suggested. It says more about luck from unreliable simulator than a result of good R&D.

  4. I appears that Abiteboul ‘s bragging about the Renault’s PU was not so far fetched. Also what was a flawed car with several weak points last year is now a strong mid field runner.

  5. Fingers Well Crossed for DanRic.
    He does seem to change teams,
    at possibly the worst times.
    He’s always been an excellent,
    if not one of the best feed back driver,
    in every team he’s been in.

  6. We’ll see. Renault thought Catalunya would go well too. Remains to be seen if they can get it to work with high downforce, here’s to hoping. Would love to see him get that podium.

  7. There is a nice rumor building that to withdraw the RP case, Mercedes granted Renault access to certain engine software optimization settings that seem to work great.
    The so could sweet spot is mostly perfected mappings.
    Interesting, see how it develops.

    1. Apart from the fact that Ricciardo stated that they already where getting there the first time around in Silverstone.

    2. It seems extremely unlikely that Mercedes would have software settings that would assist a car built around a different engine, gearbox, and aerodynamic concept.
      Mercedes offering RP something extra, sure – still not sure they would or indeed haven’t got that rolled into the supply deal, but at least it’s feasible. Renault? Can’t see it.

      1. @bookgrub yeah that doesn’t make any sense. The “settings” would be completely incompatible as it’s a completely different engine. I would be very, very surprised if it were indeed the case.

  8. Of course he’ll no longer be able to ‘turn up his engine’ . Given the objections of managers to turning up that engine, the eng may be more frigle than appears. eg still testing the higher spec of that engine. Question now is would Renault risk running the engine in a higher than normal mode?

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