Daniel Ricciardo gave his new-look Renault a tentative thumbs-up as testing began ahead of the looming F1 season.
The 30-year-old Australian experienced the team’s RS20 challenger car for the first time as he banked 56 laps in the afternoon session at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with more to come later on Thursday.
Teammate Esteban Ocon had covered 62 laps in the morning session before Ricciardo, sporting a special purple testing helmet that paid tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant, took over testing duties and ended seventh fastest overall, with a best lap time of one minute 17.873 seconds.
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“It’s great to be driving again and I felt quite comfortable in the car from the get-go, which was cool,” Ricciardo told the official Renault website.
“Esteban obviously warmed the car up nicely this morning, and I felt I was more or less straight back into it and in a rhythm when it was my turn in the afternoon.
“There are improvements on the car and we’ve obviously changed it a lot visually, which is quite clear when you look at the front nose.
“The improvements are there, and ultimately that’s what we’re targeting. It’s too early to make any comparisons, but our reliability was pretty strong, and I would say it’s promising.
“You can’t ask for too much more from day one, so I’m happy with that.”
The RS20 cut a svelte figure on track as Renault showed off an awesome all-black model. It was as much Batmobile as F1 car.
But unfortunately for fans of the special testing livery, which replaced Renault’s usual yellow design, the new black colour scheme is likely only temporary for the six days of testing before the season proper starts next month.
Renault had previously only revealed renders of its 2020 car at a season launch where team boss Cyril Abiteboul insisted he didn’t feel the need to present a “fake car”.
The car that was unveiled at testing immediately caught the eye — both in terms of its livery and the significantly slimmed-down nose, which Ricciardo referenced — and Ocon was happy with what he experienced on day one behind the wheel.
“The car is well born. At the moment it feels very decent, so it’s a good start and a good solid baseline,” he told Sky Sports.
How good does the black Renault look?Source:AFP
Is that an F1 car or the Batmobile?Source:Getty Images
Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton lapped fastest as Mercedes dominated the first day in Spain while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel called in sick. Hamilton did 94 laps on the soft C2 compound tyres in a sunny afternoon session, running untroubled after teammate Valtteri Bottas completed 79 laps in the morning.
The Brit’s fastest time of 1:16.976 compared to the best of 1:18.161 set by Vettel on the first day of testing last year.
Hamilton, who is hoping to equal Ferrari great Michael Schumacher’s record seven titles this year, was 0.337 of a second quicker than Bottas.
Racing Point’s Mexican Sergio Perez was the best of the rest, with his team’s new car drawing attention for the similarities to last year’s Mercedes.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was fourth and did the most laps, 168, with McLaren’s Carlos Sainz doing 161 on a day without any red flags to halt the action and all 10 teams getting in plenty of mileage.
The 2020 rules are little changed from last year but one difference was a new decree barring teams from hiding their cars behind screens in the garages, giving fans in the stands a better view.
Testing continues this week and again from February 26-28, with the season-opening Australian Grand Prix kickstarting the season in Melbourne on March 15.
Renault made its 2020 debut in black but will return to its customary yellow when the season proper starts.Source:AFP
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