Daniel Ricciardo’s patience is being tested.
Daniel Ricciardo’s patience is being tested.

Ricciardo’s flop as nemesis rubs it in

Daniel Ricciardo endured another torrid race weekend as his debut season with Renault continues to flatline.

The Aussie qualified 10th-fastest at the Spanish Grand Prix but started from 13th because of a grid penalty for his brain fade at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix when he reversed into Daniil Kvyat. He could only make up one spot, failing to pose a serious threat to rivals ahead of him as he finished 12th.

On a disappointing day for Renault, Ricciardo's teammate Nico Hulkenberg was 13th as the French team failed to secure any points.

"It was a frustrating race from my side this afternoon. In the first part, we had the pace on (Carlos) Sainz and at the end of that first stint I was able to take him," Ricciardo said.

"We then pitted and put the hard tyres on and he got me back quite quickly. It was difficult to close the gap back, we had good pace in the final sector but couldn't get the run on him out of the final corner.

"We were certainly quicker than 12th today and, in the end, it wasn't a perfect Sunday. The midfield is so close and everything has to be executed to the maximum for a strong result.

"We'll regroup and look forward to the next one."

Ricciardo has now picked up points just once in five races this season and made it to the chequered flag only twice with three retirements. He knew after leaving Red Bull he would need to be patient in his pursuit of success but Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul admitted his team is further behind than he expected.

"The result today is clear, even if without the Safety Car, a few points could have been possible," he said. "We are not in line with the targets we have set ourselves.

"The test next week comes at a good moment to assess particular areas of the car in depth and look at important development items as we define our short-term and medium-term action plan to recover from a poor season start that does not alter our determination and our long-term objectives."

Aiming to be the "best of the rest" this year behind the Big Three of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari, Renault has fallen well short of that goal and now sits eighth in the constructors' standings, while Ricciardo and Hulkenberg are 12th and 13th in the drivers' championship respectively.

Adding salt to Ricciardo's wound will be seeing how well former teammate Max Verstappen is going as Red Bull boss Christian Horner hailed the young gun's performances this year as "phenomenal" and "remarkable" after the in-form driver secured a Spanish GP podium with another superb drive.

Ricciardo quit Red Bull amid suggestions the team was favouring Verstappen and he's showing just why he's so well regarded by Horner and Co.

Verstappen beat both Ferraris to finish third behind Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in Barcelona, once again displaying maturity and immense speed as he overtook Sebastian Vettel on the first lap.

The Dutchman, still just 21, has not been armed with the strongest package on the grid but has arguably been the form man over the last year, and his Spanish podium means he is currently third in the drivers' standings.

"In the last 12 months, since Monaco last year, he's selected another gear," Horner told reporters after the race. "His performance has been phenomenal and he's extracted every ounce of performance out of the car."

Verstappen's achievements this year have been all the more impressive considering the gap to his teammate Pierre Gasly, who has yet to beat him in qualifying or the race so far.

Verstappen is leading Red Bull's fight with Ferrari, and Horner believes the Honda-powered team have a good chance of beating the Scuderia over the season.

"He races so strongly," the team principal added. "It was a really intelligent first couple of corners, and then obviously a very brave pass on Sebastian around the outside of Turn Three.

"I think he's really showing his maturity and composure. And his consistency in the car … today he was trading a 10th every lap. That's been remarkable."

Max Verstappen is enjoying a tremendous season.
Max Verstappen is enjoying a tremendous season.

HAAS 'CLEARS THE AIR'

Haas boss Guenther Steiner held immediate "clear the air" talks with drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean after their late clash in the Spanish GP.

Battling over seventh position on an impressive midfield-leading weekend for the team, Magnussen overtook Grosjean on the lap 53 Safety Car restart with the two cars making mild contact into Turn One and the latter running wide.

Their battle continued for several more laps as Grosjean attempted to come back at his teammate but Magnussen held the position, whereas the Frenchman ended up slipping to 10th behind Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat

"It's ended as being a little bit of a controversial weekend, but we've sorted it out - cleared the air between the drivers," said Steiner.

"That's the most important thing after their race. We maybe lost a couple of points, but we're all happy to move forward from here, everything is fine."

Speaking immediately after finishing the race, Magnussen told Sky F1: "We'll go and have a chat. It's worth talking about. It's not what you want to have, to have contact between teammates, but no intentions from me or Romain I'm sure."

The double points finish nonetheless represented Haas' first top-10 results since the season-opener in Melbourne and move them ahead of Alfa Romeo and Renault to sixth in the Constructors' Championship.

With Matt Morlidge and James Galloway, Sky Sports

News Corp Australia

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