It’s only two races into the season and as F1 heads into China for its 1,000th race, the teams are all fiddling with the cars, aero, chassis and setup still trying to learn as much as possible about their 2019 challengers.
There is precious little time to get on top of any ills your car may have and determine the path to resolution and two team reckon they have sorted out some of their woes.
For Renault, the arrival of Daniel Ricciardo was to be a happy occasion and so it has been but the result so far have not. Dan thinks the team have tried to be too clever.
“We had a bit of a debrief in a bit of peace of quiet in our own environment, and we kind of established that we are trying to do too much.
“I am trying to settle in, and also my engineers are trying to work with me, and I think probably all of us are trying to maybe be too clever as well.
“I don’t want to say that because you are always trying to find the limits, but for now we just need to keep a more basic approach, do what we can and do it well – and probably not look for that extra 1% at the moment.
“There is probably bigger time to come from being comfortable and working well together.”
That makes sense if you consider Daniel’s talent behind the wheel but that hasn’t stopped some folks from speculating about his pace in the first two races with two DNF’s. Dan says that’s rubbish:
“It is trying to figure out what is going to work best and that again can maybe be frustrating at times but I see the excitement in that,” he said.
“There have only been two races, but it is already kind of like, ‘Is he really struggling?’ and this and that.
“For me that is fun as well, I don’t want to say to prove people wrong because I think people know I haven’t forgotten how to drive, but just to get on top of it. I know that will come.”
Remember when everyone said the same thing about Sebastian Vettel when Daniel joined Red Bull? How the German was chaff compared to the Australian? Seems like Max Verstappen and now Nico Hulkenberg are creating a similar narrative about Ricciardo. I said it about Sebastian and I’ll say it about Dan, give him time, he knows how to drive a car and win races.
The team Dan left, Red Bull, is also struggling with their car setup and in particular in the hands of Pierre Gasly. Max Verstappen says that during testing, they discovered they made an error with the setup of their car during the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend.
“We understood already a lot in testing, and we also found out we made a mistake with the set-up, the whole week, unfortunately,” he said.
“That’s how it goes. As long as we found it [it’s OK].”
“If we could find a good balance within the car I think we could definitely be fighting closer, yeah,” he said.
“Then for sure, we would have finished third [ahead of Charles Leclerc’s ailing Ferrari] in Bahrain.
“It was windy throughout the whole weekend.
“I was never happy with the balance, always trying to get it, but we never got it.
“With what we found we could understand why we couldn’t find a good balance.
“If there’s something set up wrong, like we had, then you can do whatever you like on the car, and you will always have the same issue.”
Both Renault and Red Bull are searching for baselines and solid setups of their cars and it does make you wonder if all that data and telemetry and fine adjustments isn’t trying to be too cute with their setup.