Both Ricciardo’s and Ocon’s R.S.20 cars had looked to be more competitive in free practice for the British Grand Prix than they had been in the opening three races of the season.
Their pace around the Silverstone circuit was underlined by a strong qualifying performance, with both drivers reaching ‘Q3’ – the final shoot-out for the top ten grid positions – for the first time in 2020.
Ricciardo and Ocon duly qualified eighth and ninth fastest, ahead of cars from Ferrari and Red Bull and they would also remain in the fight for point-scoring results for the duration of the race (2 August).
Entering the final stages, the pair lay sixth and eighth but were suddenly in for some good fortune as, first, Valtteri Bottas’s Mercedes and then Carlos Sainz Jnr’s McLaren both hit major tyre problems which forced them to make an unscheduled pit stop.
In a flash, Ricciardo was up to fourth and Ocon sixth which is where they stayed to the chequered flag to make it both Renaults inside the top six.
This was the first time that both Renault DP World F1 Team’s cars had finished inside the top ten since last November’s USA GP (when Ricciardo and Nico Hülkenberg were sixth and ninth respectively.
It also comes close to matching the team’s best result in F1 since it returned to the sport in 2016 – the fourth and fifth that Ricciardo and Hülkenberg managed in 2019’s Italian GP at Monza, almost 12 months ago last September.
There were contrasting fortunes for Ricciardo and Ocon, however, seven days later when F1 again raced on the Silverstone circuit – this time in the F1 70th Anniversary GP (9 August).
Ricciardo qualified a very impressive fifth, although Ocon was back in 14th on the grid. Ricciardo held sixth for the opening stint but then struggled for pace after a pit stop for new tyres. A spin later on saw him fall out of the points but Ocon had made good progress and eighth place (and more points) at the finish was his reward.
Less than a week later the Renault team was set up in the paddock and pit lane at the Circuit Catalunya-Barcelona for the Spanish GP (16 Aug), but this was not a race to remember for the squad with both cars missing the cut in ‘Q2’ and failing to make it into Q3.
From 13th and 15th on the grid respectively, Ricciardo and Ocon progressed up to 11th and 13th in the race but that was as far as they got meaning no points for the team in Spain.
Next up come two of F1’s most legendary circuits – Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on 30 August and then Monza, Italy on 6 September. This will be followed by a second race in Italy, the so-called Tuscany GP when F1 makes its first visit to the Mugello circuit on 13 Sept.
Three more races then make up the remainder of the calendar to be confirmed so far – Sochi, Russia (27 Sept), Nurburgring, Germany (11 October) and, Portimao, Portugal (25 Oct) which, like Mugello, is hosting a F1 GP for the first time in 2020.