Renault, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg - Discussion.
Sparked by and exchange with Nitrodaze in the French GP thread, and my newly acquired penchant for starting threads, I thought it was worthwhile to start a thread about this combination.
Since their return as a factory team, Renault have established themselves as the "best of the rest" in F1. The acknowledged 4th placed team behind the big 3 of MB, Ferrari, and RB. They've had a slow start to the season. But are now only 2pts behind McLaren in the wcc, pretty much off the back of one good race in Canada, where both drivers finished in the points for the first this season.
Daniel Ricciardo is was big inclusion this year, to much conjecture by the fans. Regardless of the reasons why he moved, he started out being a bit sloppy this season with clumsy moments in Australia, Bahrain and Azerbaijan. But he's followed up with a good weekend at Monaco (spoilt by wrong pit tactics), and a 6th in Canada.
But what was most notable in Canada was that he qualified 4th. This is the best qualifying result Renault have had since re-joining F1 in the hybrid turbo era, and their best qualifying since Robert Kubica was 4th at the 2010 Japanese GP.
Nico Hulkenberg has had a slow start to the year, with only two 7th places and 12pts to show so far (In comparison to the 32pts this time last year. But most alarmingly he's behind Ricciardo head to head qualifying 1-6, with a streak of 6!
I don't think anybody thinks Hulkenberg is anything other than a top quality driver/talent, so I would expect him to regain some form. But imo, I think he has a disadvantage in that Ricciardo has come from a from a top tier team, whereas Hulk has been stifled by running in mid range teams for 9 years.
The thing with teams like Renault (best/better of the second tier teams), is that until they consistently produce results that say they're a genuine top tier team, you kind of can't judge how good/bad they based on outright results.
There's more variables that affect their outright results (Aggression from those behind them, adversity of those in front, whereas the top team are only affected by how bad they perform). So they way I look to see how they're going is with total amount of points finishes, and consecutive runs of points finishes.
Renault have had 5 points finishes so far. Sainz and Hulkenberg had 6 and 5 points finishes each at this time last year!
Ricciardo has been sloppy to start with, Hulkenberg seems a bit off, and the team haven't made the right strategy calls. But two consecutive points finishes, and a first double points finish in Canada, says to me they're starting eke back into form.
A pretty good race from Hulkenberg. To end up 8th and ahead of Ricciardo is a cracking result. His best race even if it's not his best result. Has now equalled Ricciardo's points total despite having a worse season so far that Ric.
But for Ricciardo, a 1/10 unfortunately.
It was effectively a 1 lap challenge for Ricciardo. At the start of the last lap he was where he started in 8th. He was simultaneously in the position of being able to get an extra place, while being vulnerable to getting picked off by two guys behind him. That is a challenge the "Racing Gods" are throwing at him, and he failed.
The best he could've done was 7th, the worst was 10th. Somehow he's ended up 11th!