Daniel Ricciardo suspects his poor qualifying performance in Austria on Saturday was rooted in something fundamental wrong with his car that Renault has yet to uncover.
Ricciardo qualified 14th, two spots behind teammate Nico Hulkenberg, but the Aussie will start his race from P12 as a result of his rivals’ various grid drops.
Renault’s pace at the Red Bull Ring was disappointing at the outset on Friday, the French outfit never contending for a spot among the top ten and Ricciardo in particular lagging in performance.
“We made quite a few changes and then we found out that we had a few set-up issues on the car after third practice,” said Ricciardo.
“So we made them right for qualifying but that didn’t seem to give it that much more.
“We’ve been struggling this weekend and we never really looked like a Q3 car.
“I feel like maybe there’s something more fundamental with the car that we haven’t quite got on top of yet because we’ve changed a lot and kind of always ended up with the same outcome.”
Renault appeared to have made a break-through recently in terms of the performance of its R.S.19 in low-speed corners. In Austria however, Ricciardo feels the team is back to square one, although for reasons that have yet to be understood.
“We changed a few things to try and address it but it didn’t really help so that’s why I’m a little bit suspicious or curious that we’re missing on the car,” he added.
“Obviously the guys checked the set-up and everything but it didn’t really feel like it was adapting much to changes. I would say the characteristics have been slightly different so far this weekend so it’s a tough one to know right now.”
On the other side of the Renault garage, Hulkenberg – who missed the Q3 cut on Saturday by a small margin – pointed to the Red Bull Ring’s layout as a possible cause for the R.S.19’s under-performance.
“We have really exploited all the envelope of set-up changes and possibilities that we have to have to our availability,” Hulkenberg told Motorsport.com.
“We’ve really tried everything to make the car go faster and to help the balance.
“We’ve not really managed to fix the problem still – we’ve shifted around things a little bit, but for qualy we’ve put our best guess and best set-up together and I think that was seen as well, that we recovered a little bit of pace.”