A week on from the Singapore Grand Prix, Daniel Ricciardo and his Renault team still seem frustrated by last week’s setback.
Ricciardo qualified in eighth overall but was sent to the back of the grid after breaching technical rules.
In a moment from his second-fastest lap in the first lap of qualifying, Ricciardo reportedly hit a kerb, with his power unit exceeding the regulation governing how much power can be emitted, revving past 120kW.
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Renault reported the spike would have given the Aussie a microsecond — just one millionth of a second — of advantage.
Ricciardo was furious before the race, having to start from 20th, while making his way up to 14th.
After a fourth-placed finish in the Italian Grand Prix, it seemed Renault were in a good position to fight their way back up to fourth place in the constructors championship.
But it left Renault with Nico Hulkenberg bringing back just two points for his ninth placed finish as McLaren widened their gap by another four points.
Renault team principle Cyril Abiteboul lashed out at FIA, the F1’s governing body, telling motorsport.com they are “losing the plot” with more leniency during the racing but throwing the book at Ricciardo for the breach.
I don’t think Cyril Abiteboul was very happy.Source:Getty Images
“It’s a bit sad because we all know the fans want less penalties, that’s obvious,” Abiteboul said.
“It’s strange because on the one side you can see that on the racetrack (race director) Michael Masi is coming with a new doctrine, the black and white flag, a sort of yellow card, so we’re trying to be sensible about the regulations and the impact on the sport and the show.
“And on the other side we have this, and for me there is disconnect between the two that we can only regret because we were on the receiving end, and obviously you can’t expect anything else from me.”
While Masi responded to say that technical breaches are black and white although he “can feel for Daniel”.
Ricciardo said after the race he lost sleep because of the debacle.
“I had a very restless night (of) sleep trying to go through it in my head, why that penalty would be so harsh,” Ricciardo said.
“For me, it happened on one occurrence on one lap. If it was happening at the same corner every lap throughout the session, I would not complain at all.
“It’s like track limits, you go off and gain and advantage, delete that lap. We didn’t even gain an advantage from this and yet they delete the whole session.
“I was disgraced by that. I voiced my opinion and I will keep voicing it.
“They are doing all the great things by letting us race on track and all that, but then what’s the point of not giving penalties on track but then giving a massive penalty for something that’s out of my control.”
Ricciardo was stunned by the severity of the penalty.Source:AFP
While Ricciardo has been positive about where Renault are going throughout the season, the Aussie is languishing in ninth in the drivers championship.
It sparked comment through the week from former Aussie F1 star Mark Webber who said Ricciardo should have stayed with Red Bull as they have a “better package” and that he might regret his decision to move to Renault.
Abiteboul spoke on the F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast, Renault may struggle to give Ricciardo the car he needs to compete for podiums in 2020 and ultimately the World Championship.
“Our difficulty in next year’s preparation will be the balancing of the resources between 2021 and 2020,” Abiteboul warned.
“This year has been very difficult because we have to work on three cars in parallel: 2019, 2020 and because 2021 is so important, we are working also on 2021.
“We will have to balance everyone’s expectation, including Daniel’s expectation for 2020, against also what needs to be done for 2021.”
With Ricciardo on a two-year deal at Renault, he’s not pencilled in for 2021.
The Renault boss admitted he may look to promote from within when Ricciardo moves on.
Abiteboul said the team’s only hope of holding onto Ricciardo is proof the team is moving in the right direction.
Ricciardo may have a big decision to make about Renault next year.Source:Getty Images
“It’s a question of credibility. It took a result like Monza for people to start believing what were saying about the engine. That could be the same question of credibility when I will be discussing with Daniel about 2021,” Abiteboul said.
“What will be my credibility in telling him that we will be able to complete that step? He needs a better car, but he needs to see that before 2021 there is progression, and we are able to demonstrate and understand what we are doing. This year has been disappointing, next year has to be a bit better.”
Abiteboul said Ricciardo has turned potential into results this season and made the most out of friendly circuits.
“Each time we’ve been capable of giving him a decent car this year, Montreal, Monaco, Spa, Monza, his ability to extract so much out of the car, that’s really insane,” he said.
“It’s fair to say we need to give him a proper car. There’s a motivation to give him, as quickly as possible, a better car so that we can properly leverage what he has to offer.”
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