Daniel Ricciardo says he is unconvinced Renault's much anticipated engine upgrade is an improvement over its predecessor, even if he was happy to end the first day of mileage for the Brazilian Grand Prix without any issues.
After Red Bull turned down the opportunity to run the engine upgrade in the United States in order to avoid a grid penalty, it has chosen to give the power unit to Ricciardo for Interlagos, with the Australian running it for the first time in free practice.
On paper it was a positive day for Ricciardo, ending up fourth and fifth in the two sessions, ahead of team-mate Daniil Kvyat using the existing specification unit.
However, Ricciardo doesn't believe the upgrade offers many gains compared with the former engine, even if he feels it has potentially more to give after some tweaking by Renault
“To be honest it's pretty similar to the old one. The positive was I got out the box today and it was fine, everything worked as it should. It feels a little bit fresher but not too much different other than that.”
“I've got Daniil's old one to compared to and to be honest not as much power as we were expecting from it for now. To be fair it's the first day of running it for the guys so obviously Renault can have a look at everything tonight and I'm sure find a few little things here and there to extract from it tomorrow. But nothing too obvious from my side at the moment.”
With Ricciardo destined to take a grid penalty, he is nonetheless confident he can make progress during the race from wherever he qualifies.
“We should be able to do a little bit of overtaking,” he said. “The good thing here is that it is at least a two stop race, maybe three, so that opens a few more windows of opportunity.”