Daniel Ricciardo is hoping he can make the most of Renault’s straight-line speed advantage in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix as he goes in search of his first Formula 1 podium with the team.

Ricciardo starred in qualifying at the Belgian Grand Prix and lines up fourth, just behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.

Renault has consistently been the fastest car in the first sector of the lap, which consists of the long Kemmel Straight.


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The Australian is confident he’d be able to keep the Red Bull of Verstappen behind if he’s able to gain track position on the opening lap given Renault’s impressive speed on the straights.

When asked if he can fight Verstappen for the podium on Sunday, Ricciardo said: “It was quite funny actually. I got out of the car in parc ferme and I looked over in his direction. And he was already looking at me. He was waiting for my response, and we both gave each other a friendly middle finger. A little bit of banter. Him and the two Mercedes have been for the most part in a league of the round on Sundays this year.

“So it’ll take something extra to hang with them tomorrow for the whole duration. But we do have a strong first and third sector, so if we could get ahead maybe it is a track that we could defend on. They are very strong in the second sector but it is tricky to overtake in the second sector, so I will certainly try to make life difficult for him and the Mercedes guys if that was somehow in reach.”

Renault has typically performed better on circuits with long straights and a lower downforce configuration - a trend its engineers are unable to explain according to Ricciardo.

“We are pretty light [on downforce], Ricciardo added. “It was a characteristic of the car last year, for whatever reason the car seems happier with a little bit less load on it. Obviously, you cannot run this low around a circuit like Barcelona. But when we do come to these more high-speed, flowing circuits, it just seems like it is in a better place with a smaller rear wing.

“It is obviously something that the engineers need to get on top of, or the aerodynamicist, to understand where we are maybe missing on the high downforce stuff. It is encouraging, it is encouraging for next weekend as well. Even if we had a bit more wing to choose from, I think we would probably still stay on this one for this track. It is working well.”