Daniel Ricciardo was showing “miserable pace” during the Chinese Grand Prix according to team principal Cyril Abiteboul, despite his ‘best of the rest’ performance which saw him claim his first finish – and first points – as a Renault driver.
The Australian went on a one-stop strategy for the second race in a row, despite it completely backfiring on him in Bahrain when he slipped to 10th before being forced to retire with just two laps remaining.
Ricciardo was obliged to start on the quick, softer tyre after using it in Q2, leading Renault to decide on a one-stop strategy once again – swapping his softs for hards – in order to protect him against other midfield teams who qualified further back and were therefore allowed to start on the more favourable medium tyre.
Despite Ricciardo being lapped, the strategy worked and he finished a fairly comfortable seventh, never really at threat of being overtaken or overtaking himself.
“It think it was a more solid performance than it looks,” Abiteboul told Motorsport.com. “It was extremely challenging to make the one-stop work, starting on the soft compound.
“We had to face the usual dilemma of starting from P7 to P10 with our kind of pace, and having to start on the softest compound, and still make it work.
“We knew that anyone from P11 onwards would be starting on the medium, and the top five would be starting on the medium, there was no point in trying to do some crazy stuff just trying to look for Gasly at this point in time. That P7 was the target, and we achieved that.”
However, despite achieving the intended P7 finish, Abiteboul said the result was “nothing to be proud of” and that he was afraid the strategy would make Renault look slow and not give a good impression of the true potential of the car.
“There’s nothing to be proud of, but just in terms of pace it was better than it looked, because we were so much into the tyre management” he added.
“Even myself I didn’t want a one-stop because of that reason, because I knew that our pace would look miserable.
“But it was very clear from our strategists that a two-stop would not work for us, so we had to make the one stop work, and it worked.”