Daniel Ricciardo is certain that Renault are the best of the rest behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull in Formula 1 this year, despite reliability issues hitting the French squad in the opening rounds. Ricciardo was the 'Class B' winner at the Chinese Grand Prix, although it was his first finish of the year.
Renault have suffered issues with their MGU-K so far in 2019, seeing a failure on either a works car or customers McLaren at each race – a trend that continued in Shanghai as Nico Hulkenberg dropped out despite having a redesigned part on-board.
There was no such trouble for Ricciardo, though, who converted seventh place on the grid to a matching race result behind the big three teams, utilising a one-stop strategy that Renault boss described as lumbering the Australian with "miserable pace".
Ricciardo finished less than two seconds ahead of Racing Point's Sergio Perez to secure Renault's first 'best-of-the-rest' this year.
"I was a bit surprised by Perez's pace in the race," he said. "Ideally we want to stretch the gap to the others but he had a really strong one.
"So I think there's still certainly some areas we can improve. But generally speaking, if we put the weekend together we should be at the front of that group."
On his one-stop strategy, Ricciardo added: "Considering Bahrain, we tried it, it didn't work out for us. I'm happy that we made it work [in China].
"It wasn't easy. Perez was actually really quick, he pushed me the whole race. I was trying to manage the gap for a moment but then he was coming so I just had to go.
"Towards the end, it was getting a bit tricky but I think he was also suffering so it didn't make it too tense the in last few laps, which was good."