Ricciardo and Max target another battle at Monza

Date published: September 3 2020 - Jamie Woodhouse

Max Verstappen Daniel Ricciardo PA

Daniel Ricciardo said both he and Max Verstappen are hoping for another wheel-to-wheel battle at the Italian Grand Prix.

2020 has been somewhat of a stop-start season for Renault, but at the Belgian Grand Prix they delivered their best qualifying performance since returning to the sport as Ricciardo put his R.S.20 P4 on the grid with team-mate Esteban Ocon starting from P6.

And the race was even more impressive. Ricciardo enjoyed a brief battle with Verstappen over the first half of the opening lap for P3.

But Ricciardo would yield, seeing the bigger picture of the race ahead, and with a few more laps he could have taken the fight to his former Red Bull team-mate again for a spot on the podium.

Nonetheless, P4 and P5 was a solid result for Renault and Ricciardo says he now has a strong understanding of the R.S.20’s “sweet spot”.

Next up is Monza, a track which should suit Renault, and Ricciardo said he and Verstappen talked about their battle after Spa and are hoping for another, but this time not as brief.

“It was fun, it was cool, [Max and I] spoke a bit after and we said ‘it was fun to be able to do that for a sequence of corners’. We would have loved to have done that for 40 laps,” Ricciardo told reporters ahead of the Italian Grand Prix.

“Hopefully there’s a bit more of that going on. I think this track does lend itself to overtaking and side-by-side racing, for a little bit. We’ll try to make it happen again and I think we’re in a good place, so we’ll try and keep the ball rolling.”

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Speaking about the point where everything clicked, Ricciardo said: “When we did a change in practice in Silverstone and I went out that next session, I was like: ‘OK the car felt transformed a bit’. I felt so much more grip coming from it and confidence to push in the entries [of corners]. We played around with it a bit at Spa and it had the same effect.

“It’s just finding the sweet spot of where the car likes to be run and that’s been positive. A lot of the time throughout the weekend we’re always changing the car, whether it’s a bit of downforce or some suspension stuff. You normally find bits and pieces; it’s kind of a compromise [from corner to corner] whereas here we felt we gained some rear grip, overall load in the car, and it’s nice to feel that as a driver.

“A feeling like that gives you confidence to drive into the apex harder and not have the fear that the car maybe losing the rear, like I’ve already felt once this year.”

Ricciardo also picked up a bonus point at Spa for setting the fastest lap of the race, and with Renault now only nine points away from McLaren who occupy P3 in the Constructors’ Championship, Ricciardo believes Renault can claim that spot for themselves.

“If we keep having those weekends, yeah,” he said when asked if P3 in the Constructors’ was possible.

“It can turn around quickly. One good weekend – I remember last year as well, one good weekend – and you’re back in the Constructors’ fight. It’s really tight at the moment but absolutely, it’s there for grabs.”

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