It was a case of what might have been for the Renault Sport F1 team in Sunday’s French Grand Prix.
Daniel Ricciardo finished seventh and Enstone team-mate Nico Hülkenberg ninth at Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet. But a post-race penalty for Ricciardo meant he exited the points, which promoted Hülkenberg to eighth.
With seventh and ninth, I think we finished in the best positions at the flag considering our starting positions and I am sure that’s what the fans will take awayTeam boss Cyril Abiteboul
Forty years after Renault’s first Formula 1 victory at the French Grand Prix, the Enstone team sits fifth in the FIA F1 Constructors’ Championship.
Team boss Cyril Abiteboul said: “With seventh and ninth, I think we finished in the best positions at the flag considering our starting positions and I am sure that’s what the fans will take away.
“Daniel didn’t have the best of starts but fought back thanks to a well thought out strategy and aggressive drive. Nico stayed on Kimi’s [Raikkonen] gearbox throughout the race and was quicker, but not enough to make a move stick.
“The ten-second penalty imposed to Daniel means that he dropped out of the points. It is disappointing as it was probably the most thrilling point of an otherwise uneventful race.
“With all the challenges to overtake cars on-track it is another demonstration that qualifying is the defining part of the weekend and our focus point for improvement.”
Hülkenberg said: “We made a good recovery and it’s pleasing to be in the top ten again. Maybe it could have been a different race had we qualified slightly higher, but 13th to ninth is a strong effort.
“I was pushing all race, but I was stuck in traffic and this place is difficult for overtaking.We’ve demonstrated that our race pace is there, but we have something to find on one-lap pace.”
Ricciardo added: “It’s clearly disappointing to drop outside the points with a post-race penalty, especially at the team’s home race. It’s a shame to be penalised for it but we’ll aim to move on from that as quickly as possible.”