Ricciardo 'proud' of Renault turnaround in quali but the pressure is on

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Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg both secured a spot among the top-ten on Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix grid, a feat the Aussie considered as a veritable turnaround for Renault after Friday's under-performance.

Both drivers battled their midfield rivals in the first two segments of qualifying to earn their spot in Q3, with Ricciardo claiming P8 and Hulkenberg P10 although both will gain a position on Sunday's grid thanks to Valtteri Bottas' demotion to the back of the field.

It was the first time since Sochi that both Renault cars have made it to Q3, an achievement that appeared as a distant prospect after Friday's low-key performance.

"I’m really happy with today’s qualifying," Ricciardo said. "It’s cool for both cars to be in Q3. We’ve made a good turnaround from Friday and that’s what I’m most proud about.

"The jump we made is really strong and encouraging and credit to the team for working hard overnight.

"It was close out there again today but we’re in the mix inside the top ten.

"There’s a bit of pressure in the fight for fifth and there’s a job to do. We delivered today and now we have to deliver tomorrow."


Indeed, Renault's fifth place in the Constructors' standings is under threat from Toro Rosso which is 8 points adrift.

At stake for both teams on Sunday will be a hefty financial benefit, with several million dollars separating fifth from sixth in the final rankings.

"[There's] a bit of pressure on everyone to stay in front of Toro Rosso," conceded Ricciardo.

"Now honestly the target is these guys, I think we can have a really good race with them, ideally we race with them and that keeps us a ways ahead of the battles behind us.

"For sure, for the team there is a cash bonus, so it is important for next year's development and just trying to keep your nose in front."

Hulkenberg was as pumped up as his teammate for his final race with Renault on Sunday.

"We were on the back-foot a little bit after yesterday, but we recovered well and found some performance overnight and today," said the German.

"It’s positive for the team, with both cars in Q3. I think it’s going to be exciting and tight tomorrow. We’re in a race for fifth and it’s all to play for.”

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