Daniel Ricciardo is set to be the first runner to try Renault’s hotly-anticipated ‘Spec C’ engine at Monza – and he and his teammate Max Verstappen were cautiously optimistic ahead of the Italian Grand Prix that the upgrade would do the business out on the track.
Ricciardo was all set to extend his Red Bull stay, with team boss Christian Horner claiming the Aussie had even recorded a video for social media announcing the decision.
But the Aussie had a change of heart and opted for a new challenge with Renault, a decision that shocked many.
Red Bull plans to run Ricciardo with the ‘Spec C’ Renault engine during Friday’s Free Practice sessions, before making a decision on whether to run it on both Ricciardo and Verstappen’s cars for the rest of the weekend. Renault’s Engine Technical Director Remi Taffin said the unit can deliver around 0.3s per lap advantage on a circuit around Monza, the fastest track the drivers face during the 2018 season. However, he added that depends on the fuel used – Red Bull use ExxonMobil while Renault runs BP/Castrol.
The Dutch youngster has been giving Ricciardo a run for his money ever since he made the switch to the senior Red Bull team in mid-2016 and his rise was touted as a possible reason for the Australian’s departure from the team.
Significantly, Red Bull have opted to fit the upgrade even before the Renault factory team themselves. When Ricciardo was asked whether he’d pushed to take the upgrade – and the resultant back-of-the-grid penalty it will entail – given that Red Bull’s third place in the constructors’ championship looks to be unassailable, he replied: “It was a team choice but I didn’t disagree with it.
“I would love to start towards the front one year in Monza… but obviously looking at Singapore, that’s a place you can’t risk having a penalty, especially with the package we have, so in the end, I agree with it.”
Daniel Ricciardo will face a grid penalty at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix after Red Bull team boss Christian Horner confirmed a new power unit would be fitted to his car.
After two wins in the first six rounds, Ricciardo’s season has unravelled lately with three retirement from the last five races. At Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix he was hit from behind on the opening lap and the resulting damage to his rear wing put him two laps down when he emerged from the pits with repairs.