Renault confirms Ricciardo special treatment
Renault has admitted Nico Hulkenberg was let down during the British Grand Prix after the team gave Aussie Daniel Ricciardo preferential treatment.
With Ricciardo qualifying seventh on the Silverstone grid and locked in a duel with Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz for a top six finish, Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul has admitted the team put its eggs in the Ricciardo basket in a decision that saw Hulkenberg's first pit stop delayed.
The German racer snatched a spot inside the points in the final lap of the race, while Ricciardo finished seventh after failing to find a way past Sainz in their scramble to the line.
Abiteboul said after the race Hulkenberg was right to be frustrated at being put on a different strategy to Ricciardo while also being forgotten about when the time came for drivers to put on their medium compound tyres after the first stint on soft tyres.
Abiteboul told Autosport.com the team preferenced the 30-year-old from Perth.
"As far Nico, it's a different type of frustration, because we didn't really help his Sunday," Abiteboul said.
"He had a challenging race, with a number of small things - including a stop that was probably called too late, we were very focused on Daniel and Lando, and very focused on when to stop, the undercut, overcut.
"In an action-packed race that's never easy, with tyres that are never easy to read. We stopped a bit too late for Nico, lost a position, and he was a bit on the back foot from that point onwards.
"He had a small issue with the engine losing a bit of power due to a sensor problem, which had to be put on default, and that cost him another position. So overall we made Nico's race a bit complex."
He said the unfortunate timing of the safety car is what hurt his team the most as Sainz was able to get a leg up on Ricciardo during the race and was the decisive factor in the McLaren driver holding off Ricciardo at the end.
Renault's decision to give Ricciardo preferential treatment is hardly the first time in 2019.
Hulkenberg was also left a little miffed at the conclusion of the Canadian Grand Prix in June.
It was the Aussie's best weekend in yellow this year, qualifying fourth and finishing sixth. Late in the race, orders from the Renault garage came through, telling Hulkenberg to stay behind his teammate as Ricciardo charged on with older tyres.
Hulkenberg was reportedly "upset" at his team for favouring the Aussie, who became the French-based manufacturer's No. 1 man after departing Renault in 2018.
Hulkenberg pitted eight laps after the Aussie and looked to have the speedier of the two cars late in the piece, but orders were orders.
Renault's managing director Cyril Abiteboul said he wasn't a fan of the move himself, but the prospect of the team risking places was too daunting to face so late in the race.
Two weeks later at the French Grand, Ricciardo received an upgrade to his Renault that teammate Hulkenberg did not receive.
Both Ricciardo and Hulkenberg were enjoyed an upgraded chassis at Renault's home race in France, but only Ricciardo received the team's internal combustion engine upgrade - a small boost to his Renault power unit.
Hulkenberg did not get the upgrade because it would have resulted in a grid position penalty for him - something Renault didn't want in its home race.