Strategy left Renault with "miserable pace" in China
Renault Formula 1 team boss Cyril Abiteboul admits that a one-stop strategy left Daniel Ricciardo showing "miserable pace" during the Chinese Grand Prix.
Ricciardo was one of five top 10 qualifiers obliged to start on the soft tyre after using it in Q2, along with Pierre Gasly, Nico Hulkenberg, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.
Knowing that Gasly would be out of reach on pure performance, Renault decided to put Ricciardo on a one-stop strategy in order to protect him from those who started from outside the top on the more favourable medium tyre.
That meant a long 18-lap opening stint on his used softs, followed by a run to the end on the hard tyre. Ricciardo ended up being lapped, but the strategy paid off he finished in seventh 1.9 seconds clear of Racing Point's Sergio Perez. His fastest lap was only the 16th fastest in the whole field.
"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."
Abiteboul admitted to some frustration at not seeing 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.
"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."
Abiteboul said both driver and team had done a good job after a difficult start to the 2019 season.
"That was very challenging. We were really driving to the tyre, and not to the pace. The only thing we were monitoring was the gap behind to Perez, to be sure that we would not enter into the DRS zone.
"In that respect a very solid race, very good communication with the team, with his engineer, which is good, it's what we needed at this point after the first two races."
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