The battle for third place in the Formula One Constructors’ Championship is a closely fought one indeed. With just three races remaining there is a 24-point difference between 6th place and the much coveted third spot in the table. Racing Point had a very successful Turkish Grand Prix and Renault must bounce back this weekend in Bahrain if they are to remain in contention. The French manufacturer can certainly ill afford a repeat of what transpired in 2019 when both Renault drivers retired from the race - with just 4 laps remaining.
In 2019 the Renault racers were Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo. For 2020, Ricciardo remains but Esteban Ocon replaced the talented German racer. Speaking to the official website of the pinnacle of motorsport, www.formula1.com, Daniel Ricciardo reflected on his 2019 tribulations, the progress he and Renault have made and what could be in store for the team at the fast approaching Sakhir double-header.
Bahrain has not been a rewarding Grand Prix event for Daniel Ricciardo in the past years seeing how prior to the events of 2019, Ricciardo (and his then teammate Max Verstappen) recorded a double DNF in Sakhir for Red Bull Racing:
“In recent years, I haven’t had the best results in Bahrain,” said Ricciardo, “but I’m looking to set that right this weekend.”
“The Sakhir circuit in Bahrain is a good one; I’ve always enjoyed racing there and night sessions are always fun to take part in… There are some decent overtaking spots, especially Turn 1, which is probably the best place to attack.”
Of course, a year on, Renault is a very different team and Ricciardo (having claimed two podiums for the team) has high expectations.
“I’m feeling much more on top of the car since we were last in Bahrain,” Ricciardo added, “so I think we should be in a good place. We also have a bit of unfinished business there after last season, so I’m pretty hungry and fired up.”
For the 2020 season, the Bahrain Grand Prix double-header will see the second 2020 Sakhir encounter take place on the shorter version of the track. So short in fact that due to cutting out the twisting infield a lap time of less than 60 seconds is expected. Daniel Ricciardo welcomes this approach as revealed in his recent comments to the media:
“I had a few laps on the sim,” said the much-loved Aussie. “It's unique, if you want to use that. There's not a whole lot to it. Obviously the first few corners are the same. And then you've got like a kind of S into a chicane, and then the back straight into the last corner. I hope at the chicane we can kind of carry enough momentum to get close and to get a tow and to set up some overtaking, maybe into the last corner, for example. I am a fan of changing the layout, if we're going to go to a circuit twice in two weekends, let's change it. And I'm excited to see how it performs.”
Formula One as a whole will be excited to see how the double-header works out. If the second wave of the pandemic alters the 2021 calendar, different layouts may become the norm at certain tracks.
The Turkish Grand Prix featured variable weather conditions which brought a challenge to the drivers. At the Sakhir circuit, although there is a hint of some rain (yes, honestly) there is certain to be extreme heat racing out in the desert and Ricciardo relishes the prospect of driving in such conditions:
“I know we’ve been to some awesome tracks across Europe recently, and whilst they’ve all been fun for various reasons, the weather has been too cold for me!” Ricciardo said. “I much prefer the heat and it’s still pretty warm in Bahrain during the evening, which is great.”
Daniel Ricciardo has three races with Renault remaining before heading to McLaren in 2021 which will see Fernando Alonso return to the F1 starting grid.
Renault left Turkey with a solitary point after the events of Istanbul and as a result the team fell from 3rd in the Constructors’ Championship to 5th due to the performance of their rivals. For many, third place in the Constructors’ Championship is considered to be out of reach for anyone other than Racing Point.
Nevertheless, with the French manufacturer 13 points behind McLaren there is every chance of Ricciardo leapfrogging his future employers before the end of the season.
Such an outcome should make for an interesting first day in Woking for the Perth native. However, one thing’s for certain – it would produce a fantastic sequence of Grand Prix weekends for us all to watch.