Daniel Ricciardo says Renault is “properly in the hunt” for P3 in the Constructors’ championship with the French outfit racing neck to neck for a spot on the podium with Force India and McLaren.
Ahead of this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix, the three teams are separated by just six points, with Racing Point leading the ‘best of the rest’ trio.
Ricciardo’s podium finish in the Eifel GP – Renault’s first top-three results since its return to F1 as a works outfit in 2016 – was a concrete validation of the French outfit’s progress, not to mention a productive performance in terms of points.
“We’re definitely in the hunt, we’re properly in it,” said Ricciardo in Portimão.
“But I think equally, all three teams, we’re so evenly-matched and sometimes it’s up to even the first lap, who gets a better start, who can get track position, and I think that’s how close it is, the battle.”
The future McLaren driver believes reliability and Renault’s ability to put both its cars in the points in the final six races of the season will prove crucial for the Enstone squad’s chances of overhauling its midfield rivals.
“Obviously what’s going to be important to dictate that battle is also reliability, and getting both cars in the points when possible, so that’s obviously what we’ll really try and target to make life easier. But it’s close…,” said Ricciardo.
“Obviously at the start of the year, Racing Point looked like they were a clear step ahead, then McLaren showed strong signs and we have as well, so honestly I think it’s really close.”
Read also: Ricciardo making Ocon look ‘quite average’ – Palmer
Regarding Renault improving its reliability, Esteban Ocon – who retired last time out in Germany due to a hydraulics issue – says his team is “working hard on that”.
“I think it’s been strong earlier in the year. Of course, a few occasions it happened recently but overall… as a package, we have been very strong, the performance has improved massively since the beginning of the season,” said the Frenchman.
“Even if I had a retirement, it’s great to see that Daniel managed to put the car on the podium,” he added.
“It was a relief for the whole team, it was so long since they got that podium and we got it that time. Of course, it would be great if we have some more during this end of the season, and I’m going to try and get also for my side.”
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