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Ricciardo buoyed by much-improved Renault

Ricciardo buoyed by much-improved Renault

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Ricciardo buoyed by much-improved Renault

Ricciardo buoyed by much-improved Renault

Daniel Ricciardo is confident he has a Renault in which he can now take the fight to its main rivals this Formula 1 season.

The French manufacturer endured a miserable 2019, dropping a place to fifth in the constructors' championship compared to the year before, and collecting just 91 points.

Two eighth-place finishes in the season-opening back-to-back races at the Red Bull Ring - one apiece for Ricciardo and new team-mate Esteban Ocon - may not appear much to write home about.

Bear in mind, though, Renault had failed to score a single point in its four previous outings at the track since returning to F1 as a constructor in 2016.

"There have certainly been positives," said Ricciardo, reflecting on the Austrian and Styrian Grands Prix.

"If I take the first half of the race [on Sunday], I know I was on the medium [tyre] and the cars in front were on softs, but I think I was quite close to the pace of [Carlos] Sainz and [Alex] Albon, so I think we have improved, especially on a circuit which hasn't been a good one for us.

"I'm certainly curious to see how we can get on at the next few. Silverstone was good for us last year, so we will see once we get there, but there are positives to take.

"Eighth, as good as points are, and I wouldn't say we deserve better, but I think we have shown pace to get a better result the last two weekends.

"Moving forward we have just got to understand a little more about the soft [tyre]. The guys on the medium at the end were quite a bit quicker, so I feel we can do better, but generally speaking, the car has certainly taken a step forward, that's for sure."

A particular plus of the R.S.20 for Ricciardo this year is at the rear.

Addressing the strengths and weaknesses, Ricciardo added: "In race trim, we've still got a little bit to improve.

"But generally we can follow other cars a little better in a race, and suffer a little bit less in the dirty air, so the downforce and package we have are a bit more efficient.

"On low fuel, the rear of the car has improved a lot, so traction. If we look at overlays from last year, we are getting to full throttle considerably earlier, so the rear of the car, at the moment, is a strength compared to this time last year."

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