While Daniel Ricciardo says he’s settled well into his new Renault team, the Australian has not found the seat in his car quite so snug.
On a day when Ricciardo could only manage eighth-fastest in second practice the local lad also had to endure an opening practice session where his nether regions suffered from a lack of form fitting comfort.
In the early session Ricciardo finished in P17 out of 20, with his garage having to hammer a softer finish on his seat in the “gentleman area” as the team’s development driver Jack Aitken delicately put it.
“It was good to get the first day done. It’s been a busy week with a big build-up, so to get Friday practice completed is nice,” Ricciardo said after practice as he contemplates life as a likely mid-field starter ahead of Saturday qualifying.
“We had some consistent running in FP2 and I was certainly growing more comfortable on each run.
“We still have lots to learn and improve on, but we’re getting there. For me, it’s about developing the understanding of the car and we’ve made a good start on that today.
Qualifying will be interesting tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it.”
Ricciardo has had a busy week ahead of his home Grand Prix, telling a Renault function on Tuesday night that he was happy to be in Melbourne, but even keener to get the formalities out of the way.
“It’s nice to be here. It’s nice just to go racing again,” he said. “Yeah we drove the cars in testing, but testing is kind of, not really the same. I was happy to come home but also to go racing.”
Ricciardo was not so pleased with reports about his new salary at Renault, which has been suggested is $48.95 million for two years.
That would make him Australia’s highest paid athlete and third-highest paid formula one driver behind only Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who have nine world titles between them.
“That kind of bums me out because a lot of people reading that will believe it,” Ricciardo told reporters.
Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg spent most of the first session in the garage with electrical issues but still finished 10th-fastest. He bettered the Australian in the second run as well, finishing seventh.
Lewis Hamilton claimed the top spot in the second practice from Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, with Max Verstappen third-fastest in the new Honda-powered Red Bull.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel had been second-fastest in the morning session, but suffered handling issues and could only manage fifth-fastest in the second dig.
2019 Formula One Australian Grand Prix – Free Practice 2
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 33 1:22.600
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 33 1:22.648 0.048
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 33 1:23.400 0.800
4 Pierre Gasly Red Bull 31 1:23.442 0.842
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 35 1:23.473 0.873
6 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 40 1:23.572 0.972
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 37 1:23.574 0.974
8 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 31 1:23.644 1.044
9 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 35 1:23.754 1.154
10 Romain Grosjean Haas 37 1:23.814 1.214
11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 36 1:23.933 1.333
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas 27 1:23.988 1.388
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point 38 1:24.011 1.411
14 Carlos Sainz McLaren 26 1:24.133 1.533
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 37 1:24.293 1.693
16 Sergio Perez Racing Point 34 1:24.401 1.801
17 Alex Albon Toro Rosso 40 1:24.675 2.075
18 Lando Norris McLaren 26 1:24.733 2.133
19 George Russell Williams 32 1:26.453 3.853
20 Robert Kubica Williams 33 1:26.655 4.055