Ricciardo says Renault F1 car ‘happier’ in low-downforce trim

Daniel Ricciardo says Renault’s strong form at the Belgian Grand Prix is the result of his car feeling much “happier” in lower downforce trim.

Just two weeks after Renault endured a tough time in Spain as both drivers failed to make it into Q3, Ricciardo qualified fourth at Spa-Francorchamps with teammate Esteban Ocon two places further back.

The duo’s pace in the first and third sectors at Spa have highlighted Renault has opted for a lower downforce solution than other teams here – and it’s one that Ricciardo suggests has made the RS20 come alive.

“We are pretty light,” said Ricciardo when asked by Motorsport.com about the low downforce choice.

“We feel this was a characteristic of the car last year. I feel like, for whatever reason, the cars seems a bit more happier with a little bit less load on it.

“Obviously you can’t run this low around a circuit like Barcelona, but when we do come to these more high-speed flowing circuits, it just seems like it’s in a better place with a smaller rear wing.”

He added: “I think even if we had a bit more wing to choose from, we’d probably still stay on this one for this track. It’s working well.”

Ricciardo said that when taking the downforce off, the Renault car felt like it had better balance than when it is running bigger wings.

“Typically, it should feel worse as far as having less downforce, and should slide more and be a bit more uncomfortable,” explained the Australian.

“But yeah, it doesn’t always feel that way. It just feels like it’s a little bit at times better balanced.

“I’m not saying there’s more grip available. But yeah, you know, from the front and the rear of the car, the two front tyres and the two rear tyres, I feel like they’re working together better in simple terms when we seem to put a smaller wing. It seems it’s a characteristic of the car for now.”

Having been second fastest in Friday’s second free practice session, Ricciardo admitted that the team had been nervous about its prospects for Saturday after fearing things had gone too well on the opening day.

“It’s funny actually,” he said. “Yesterday, the vibe was like it went too well. Everyone was like ‘oh, we are second, you know, we’re gonna be let down now tomorrow because, you know, even maybe seventh is not really good enough’.

“So to back it up with a top four, I think it’s a really, really good day. It’s a really good weekend so far.”

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