Esteban Ocon says Renault will need to be “aggressive” if it is to recover from its disappointing F1 qualifying result for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

After ending final practice third and fourth, Renault had high hopes going into qualifying.

Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo were unable to maintain the pace they showed in FP3 as both drivers failed to progress into Q3.

The pair are set to start the race in Abu Dhabi from 10th and 11th, moving up one position due to Leclerc’s three-place grid penalty.

Renault’s failure to make it into Q3 means both drivers will be given free tyre choice at the start of the race and Ocon believes that will be a crucial factor in scoring a big result given its struggles on the soft tyre compound.

“We were looking really good in practice sessions,” Ocon said. “Third in FP1, sixth in FP2, and fourth in FP3. Both cars were really fast, and we were feeling really confident in the car was feeling great. And the balance was awesome in FP3, so we made our little adjustments like we usually do thinking of a good qualifying coming up.

“But straightaway, when we went out something, was not the same, and we were struggling with the rear of the car. The traction out of corners. Entry stability. It was just not as nice as it was previously all weekend. So to something we need to dig into. It is not over, clearly not. We have a free choice of tyres tomorrow, which is going to be mega important.

“The C5 is a very soft compound and not easy to use in the race, so we’ll see what we do. But for the other ones that could be tough. Thanks to that hopefully it is going to give us some options on strategy to try to come back because we need to come back for the points in the constructors’ championship. It is going to be an aggressive race.”

Renault has an outside shot of third in the constructors’ championship as it trails third-placed Racing Point by 22 points.

After the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, Renault sat third in the standings but since then it has struggled for form.

Ricciardo isn’t sure why Renault has lost out to its competitors in recent races.

“It looks like that from the outside, and it is strange because we built momentum all the way through the year up towards the two podiums and Imola, and since then it has, not to be negative, it has not even really plateaued,” Ricciardo added. “It looks like we’ve lost a bit compared to the others, so I’m not really sure will why that is. 

“Unless the others are brought updates that I am unaware about. It certainly has been a bit more of a struggle the last few, respective to what we were doing earlier in the year. I’m not really sure. Obviously, the others have got quicker, and you saw Charles with the Ferrari up there a few times. And Racing Point, I think they been quick all year, but it seems like they’re putting it together more often now. Not sure.

“It looks like we’ve gone backwards. I don’t think we have gone backwards but it just feels like everyone else has gone forward and we have not in the last few.”