A difficult opening day at the Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix for Daniel Ricciardo has left him with ‘homework’ to do ahead of qualifying.
The Australian, who has a new chassis for this weekend after the team found damage to the tub he used in Melbourne two weeks ago, was only 11th fastest in opening practice before falling to 15th fastest in the second session – more than two seconds off the outright pace on both occasions.
Turning 19 laps across the day, Ricciardo’s pace was also wanting in comparison to Renault team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, who was four tenths quicker in Practice 1, and 1.2s quicker in Practice 2.
“I struggled this afternoon and we were off the pace from where we would like,” Ricciardo said.
“We started on the hard tyre, which was tricky for grip, but once we put the soft on it felt slightly more comfortable.
“I know there are things we can improve on, especially with the balance of the car.
“We conducted a lot of work to understand more about the car in the garage this afternoon and then we did the long run, which was a little better.
“We aren’t as competitive as we should be and obviously I want to be quicker tomorrow, so we will do some homework tonight.”
From the team’s perspective it was satisfied with its performance on the opening day, suggesting Ricciardo’s lack of pace was in part the result of the program he ran.
“We got our programs done on both sides of the garage without any issues, so it was a sensible FP1 for us,” said Nick Chester, the team’s chassis technical director.
“FP2 was more about doing tyre comparisons with short runs on softs, then long running on soft and medium tyres.
“The performance looked reasonably decent for Nico but for Daniel it was a bit more difficult because he ran the hard tyre to start with and that compound had quite low grip.
“This made his following run on the soft tyre difficult as there was a big grip change.”
While Ricciardo struggled, Hulkenberg was a promising eighth in opening practice, improving to fifth behind the two Ferraris and Mercedes as best of the rest in Practice 2.
Final practice begins at 2300 AEDT (1500 local time) this evening with qualifying at 0200 AEDT on Sunday morning (1800 local time Saturday).