Sir Jackie Stewart and Daniel Ricciardo. Copyright: Mandoga Media

Renault DP World F1 Team ended Friday practice for the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with both cars inside the top ten on the timesheets after a promising day at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Esteban Ocon was third in Free Practice 1 and sixth in Free Practice 2 with Daniel Ricciardo ninth in the evening after an early end in the first session due to a suspected fuel pump problem.

That issue was quickly fixed ahead of Free Practice 2, meaning Daniel could run his planned programme in the evening.

Both drivers ran the opening part of the second session with the mandatory 2021 Pirelli tyre test, which featured eight timed laps, before switching focus to fine-tuning car set-up on both short and long runs. A red flag late in the session put a halt to the team’s high fuel running on all three compounds.

What we learned today:
V10s still sound good. More tomorrow.

Daniel Ricciardo, #3, R.S.20-06
Free Practice 1: P20, No Time Set, 3 laps
Free Practice 2: P9, 1:37.508, 29 laps

Daniel: “If you’re going to miss a session in Abu Dhabi it’s probably better that it’s the first one as it isn’t representative for qualifying tomorrow and the race on Sunday because of the later start times for those sessions. I think the evening session today was pretty good for us and we hit the ground running straight away. We did plenty of laps and the car felt good for most of the session. With a couple of tweaks, I think we’ll be in a good place tomorrow. Qualifying is going to be really important here and, of course, it’s my last one with the team, so I’m looking forward to putting on a good show.”

Esteban Ocon, #31, R.S.20-05
Free Practice 1: P3, 1:38.515, 33 laps
Free Practice 2: P6, 1:37.505, 30 laps

Esteban: “It was a pretty good Friday in terms of our short runs. We still have some work to do overall because our long runs aren’t where we want them to be, especially as that has been among our strengths this year. That does, however, give us something to work out over the weekend and I’m sure we’ll get there. Otherwise it’s promising on the timesheets and it’s going to be very tight once again. Whether it’s a long track or a short track, it’s very close! I think qualifying will be interesting tomorrow and we need to extract the best from the car. I’m ready for it.”

Ciaron Pilbeam, Chief Race Engineer:
“We’ve had a fairly decent day. Esteban had a fairly smooth run all day, however Daniel missed most of the morning. He had a problem that was easily fixable, but the car was stranded out on the circuit, so we missed nearly all of FP1. The later session ran better for him. In terms of short run pace, it’s very close, as expected, with probably eight cars within two tenths on the low fuel runs on the softs. We are right in amongst it and we can expect a close fight tomorrow night in qualifying. The long runs were broken up for everyone by a red flag so it’s a bit hard to see the race pace so far, but we will do our usual Friday night homework ready for tomorrow.”