Renault now has a real qualifying mode, says Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo competes for Renault F1 in Monaco

Daniel Ricciardo believes Renault has a “real qualifying mode” this season in the wake of developments it has made with its power unit.

Renault had lacked behind Formula 1’s engine pace-setters since the introduction of V6 turbo hybrid power units in 2014, with its deficit in qualifying often the most pronounced.

Renault has endured a low-key start to 2019 amid performance and reliability setbacks but Ricciardo nonetheless reckons gains have been made across one lap.

“We finished our debrief [in Monaco] and both Nico [Hulkenberg] and I complimented the Renault boys and our quali felt pretty strong,” he said.

“My reference from last year, I am pulling an extra gear before some apexes.

“So definitely a year on it is a lot better. China was our last step. We actually have a real qualifying mode this year.

“I feel that it is in the right direction now, and the nice thing is there is still more to come.

“The reliability is what is going to hold us up from going that step further. That is what is going to hold us back from going that step further but we could squeeze a bit more [in Monaco].

“Even on a low power circuit you could feel it. Some positives.”

Ricciardo suggested that Renault’s displays this year have been made to seem worse by the competitive nature of Formula 1’s midfield.

“The reality is that it is tighter this year in that midfield to what Renault experienced last year,” said the seven-time race winner. “A lot of teams have stepped up.

“We can start to get ahead of them but the reality is that it is not going to be as easy as last year, and it will take a bit of time. It is showing a bit more direction now, which is positive.”