Eifel GP 2020 - GP preview - Renault F1
He might not have raced at the Nürburgring since 2013, but Daniel Ricciardo heads to the legendary raceway looking to continue his solid run of form.
What are your thoughts on the Nürburgring?
I last drove the Nürburgring in 2013 so it’s been a while, but I am looking forward to racing the circuit again. In terms of the track, the last chicane is quite fun as you approach it quite fast and jump over the kerbs, making the exit of the corner quite wild. In today’s Formula 1 cars it will be very quick, so it should be fun, and we go there looking to build on the positive run we’re on.
What’s your racing record like there?
I’ve not raced there too often in my career, but I qualified sixth in 2013 and I also had a purple last sector in Q2 that year. I was quite new to Formula 1 then, so I was pretty stoked! I’ve raced here in a few junior categories too, I finished second back in 2011 in what was called World Series by Renault. I also did my first race in Formula 3 back in 2008. I was still racing Formula Renault 2.0 at the time, but I was given a chance during an off weekend for our championship. I think an old German team-mate of mine won that weekend…Nico something! It’s one of those classic circuits, which I’m sure most drivers have raced during their career.
How challenging might the conditions be at this time of year?
The weather report looks quite cold and wet, so it’ll be very different to our last few races where it’s been warm. It’ll be interesting to see how the car behaves in these conditions. Overall, given the time of year it could be quite an unpredictable weekend so we could be in for a crazy race. Let’s see what happens, I’ll be ready regardless of the weather!
It was a return to the points in Russia for Esteban Ocon with a solid seventh place finish. Races are coming thick and fast as the Championship battle grows closer; next stop: the Nürburgring.
Have you raced at the Nürburgring?
I’ve only raced at the Nürburgring a couple of times during my junior career. I remember driving there in Formula Renault Eurocup in 2012 and I also did a couple of one-off Formula Renault NEC events in 2013, one of them was at the Nürburgring and I was on the podium! The last time I raced there was in 2014 in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship and I was third in one of the races.
What’s there to consider on a lap?
Turn 1 is quite a challenge and it’s a good overtaking spot. There are a few ways of taking it as it’s a wide hairpin and not an easy one to get right. Sector 2 is fun with the Schumacher curve, uphill, fast left-right and then a second fairly high-speed left-right. The final sector has the straight into the chicane and then the final right-hander across the line. It’s going to be fast and fun in a modern Formula 1 car. It’s back to a more normal type of circuit and more of what we’re used to. While it’s new again to the calendar, most teams and drivers have some experience of the track so, in a way, it should be more straightforward than Mugello and Portimao. I’m happy Nürburgring is back, it’s great news as I like racing in Germany. I have the track on my simulator at home and I will practice everything I can.
How interesting could the weather be at this time of the year?
The weather in north Europe at the moment can be cold and wet. We’ll see what happens, but I think we can be ready for all conditions. It’s going to be completely different for the tyres and making sure they are up to temperature for the car set-up. If it rains, then we know what we’re capable of achieving. The car was good at testing in the rain and then in Austria in qualifying. Rain or dry, we’ll be looking to do a good job and make sure we continue this run of form and have our say in the championship.
Chief Race Engineer Ciaron Pilbeam
After scoring well in Sochi, the team heads to Germany for the Eifel Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. Chief Race Engineer Ciaron Pilbeam outlines the key challenges of the 5.148km circuit.
What are the considerations for the Nürburgring?
The first sector of the circuit is quite a technical section, with a sequence of closely spaced slow and medium speed corners where the precise racing line is important. The middle sector is more flowing, with some faster corners and the tricky chicane and then the last corner on to the start-finish straight. It’s a high downforce track with a variety of features that will require some setup compromises.
How will the team prepare for a ‘new’ circuit?
The last Grand Prix at the Nürburgring was in 2013, which is more recent than our last trip to Mugello, where we raced last month, and we do have some track data that will help us with our preparations for the weekend. Nevertheless, the cars have changed a lot since then and we will need to rely on our simulation work more than usual.
How challenging will the conditions be at this time of the year?
The weather at this time of year is normally cool and possibly wet. We need to be prepared to focus on getting the tyres working if it is dry, and to consider how and when we use our limited number of wet and intermediate tyres if the forecast is for rain over the weekend. We’ve shown recently our car is performing well at most circuits, and it has been competitive in the wet. We will be prepared for all conditions.
What is the feedback after the Russian Grand Prix?
Sochi was another good weekend for us. The car performed well and the new floor and front wing that we introduced brought a decent step in performance. We scored a good haul of points and we are now in a good position in the Constructors’ Championship. We are well into the second half of the season now and we still have one or two upgrades to come to the car, which we will need to keep up that challenge, as our competitors are not sleeping.
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