Ricciardo: There are “encouraging signs” from winter tests

Daniel Ricciardo has said there are “encouraging signs” after a positive six days of testing in his Formula 1 Renault RS20.

Ricciardo topped the timesheet in the morning session on the final day of testing, although dropped down the order in the afternoon, but although the Enstone-based team haven’t been regularly setting the fastest pace, they have shown strong reliability.

The team has also been working hard on its Renault engine, with Ricciardo confirming that they have increased the level of testing back at the engine factory in Viry and the signs are “encouraging”.

Speaking about the final day of testing, Ricciardo said: “I’m pretty happy with my running today and finishing top of the timesheets in the morning session was a bonus, so it’s a nice way to round-off pre-season testing.

“But it is testing, so I’m not getting overly excited about it.

“In the morning we resolved a few issues from yesterday, and looking back at the week as a whole, it has been positive for us.

“We’ve improved the overall balance of the car, worked through some set-up changes and our reliability has been strong.

“I believe we’ve cranked up more kilometres on the engine tests back at Viry than we’ve ever had before, so this combined with our results over the two tests are ultimately encouraging signs ahead of the start of the season in Australia.”

Renault Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul agreed with Ricciardo, saying that the team are “content” with their performance in testing, and that it is clear progress has been made over the winter.

“Today was the culmination of a smooth and productive pre-season test fortnight, which we leave feeling content with our work.” commented Abiteboul.

“The R.S.20 ran well and pretty much as we expected, courtesy of the progress made by Enstone and Viry over the winter to ensure all parts were delivered to the track to a high standard and in good time.

“This preparation meant we were well placed to complete all major test items with little fault over the two weeks.

“We initially concentrated on assessing the main characteristics of our package and determining reliability levels across chassis and engine, before working through different set-up options with some ideas proving interesting and others not.”

“Our absolute performance level is in line with our expectations from the winter gains, a positive sign of the correlation level between our development facilities and the track, something that will be crucial for the very aggressive development plan we have in place.

“As for our competitiveness level relative to a very competitive midfield, it is right now very difficult to assess, but we look forward to racing again.”