RB drivers agree poor race starts hurting team’s results


RB drivers Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo both agreed after last Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix that weak race starts are hurting their results, as last weekend’s launch off the grid demonstrated.

Tsunoda and Ricciardo lined up seventh and ninth, their respective qualifying positions, but both chargers lost two positions on the opening lap.

This pushed RB to pit both drivers earlier than planned in a bid to try and recover their lost positions, which meant a longer than expected second stint on the hard tyre.

While Tsunoda was able to progress back into the top ten and ultimately salvage a point by finishing tenth, Ricciardo suffered almost all afternoon in the dirty air wake of Nico Hulkenberg’s Haas.

During his first stint, Tsunoda had also been forced to contend with the German driver.

“I think our start slightly compromised our race because we lost a couple of positions to Nico,” recounted the Japanese driver.

“He was fast on the straights, so we didn’t want to end up behind him which is why we pitted before him and earlier than planned.

“It was the crucial moment of the race, and I think we managed the strategy well and responded correctly to Nico.

It meant we had to go long in our second stint and managing the hard tyre for the last 15 laps was challenging, but well done to the team for managing, that’s positive.

“The start is the main topic that we need to improve on," concluded Tsunoda. "We’re working hard to take another step forward and we’ll focus on extracting the maximum out of our package.”

Ricciardo reckoned that his weak start had cost him dearly, especially on a track where overtaking opportunities are few and far between.

“I don’t think anything went wrong with the start procedure, I felt like I did everything right, but unfortunately, losing that starting place did cost us the points in the race,” he said.

The Aussie felt that in clean air he had the measure of Hulkenberg. Unfortunately, he lost a spot to the latter’s teammate Kevin Magnussen on the final lap of the race.

“I think it looks very different if we get a better start. The laps we have in clear air, we show some pace. I think they just had an alternate strategy.

“It's another place where he was already ahead of me braking into Turn 1. When I was behind Sargeant in the middle of the race, obviously we were a lot quicker but I was never even alongside into braking into Turn 1.

“Maybe Kevin had a bit of tyre delta, I don't know, but following, we feel like people are able to overtake us a little easier that we're able to overtake them.”

But Ricciardo’s race start remained the RB driver’s main concern.

“The starts, they're hurting us at the moment,” he added. “I don't know yet what the issue was – I didn't feel like I botched it; it felt like everything was going okay from the procedure.

“It's so sensitive and something we're working on.

“Today, obviously, it cost us. I think if we stayed in front of Hulkenberg at the start, Yuki and I go off together, then a completely different looking race.”

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter