Renault must remain “realistic” about Russian GP chances

Renault Chief Engineer Ciaron Pilbeam has said that his team must remain realistic about their Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix chances, after showing good pace in practice.

The Enstone-based team has performed well during Friday practice in recent Grands Prix, but have failed to live up to expectations on Sundays, although their results have been better than last year.

And after Daniel Ricciardo had another impressive Friday in Sochi, ending up second and third in both sessions respectively, Pilbeam has called for expectations to be kept in check, believing they will face stronger competition in both qualifying and the race.

Speaking about Friday’s practice session, Pilbeam said: “The morning session was a bit disrupted with the red flag stoppage and a couple of yellow flags, but the afternoon session was clear, and we got through everything we had planned to do.

“Our pace looks okay on both short runs and long runs and we’ll remain realistic for tomorrow and Sunday.

“We’ll do our usual Friday evening homework and come back tomorrow looking to put both cars in a good position on the grid.

“We’ve tried a few things on set-up on both cars and we’ll aim to put together the best bits we’ve learnt today onto tomorrow’s set-up.”

Ricciardo has been impressive in recent weeks, clearly outperforming his teammate Esteban Ocon, and was pleased with ending both Friday practice sessions inside the top three.

He admitted that being this competitive has given him additional confidence, but he acknowledges that the likes of Racing Point and McLaren will inevitably close the gap.

“We keep on setting the time sheets alight on Friday, so it’s nice to see us high up again today.” commented Ricciardo.

“It’s a circuit I’ve not had too much success or confidence on before, so it definitely gives me a boost.

“I learnt a lot and showed strong pace in every run. Looking ahead to tomorrow, I think it’ll be a lot closer especially between us and the teams that are about two to three tenths behind, so I think qualifying will be tightly contested.

“But I draw a lot of confidence from today and we’ll look to string it all together for the rest of the weekend.”