Daniel Ricciardo: ‚This season emphasised my love for Formula 1‘

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By Andrew Benson
Chief F1 writer
It hasn’t been an easy year at Renault, but Daniel Ricciardo nevertheless claims that this year has“emphasised his love“ for Formula 1.
The Australian seven-time winner left Red Bull to join Renault on a yearlong contract for 2019 and 2020 worth greater than $50m (#40.2m), and his new team began the season with the ambition of closing on the top three teams.
Renault have slid back again. But Ricciardo says that he“still feels great“ about the conclusion, has no regrets, and that he’d love to continue with the group if they can show sufficient improvements next season.
„Do I wish to stay? Yes, since hopefully we do get this into another level,“ Ricciardo informs BBC Sport in a private interview.
„It had been my large aim to come here. My intention wasn’t to really have a layover somewhere else. I understand people might still feel that, but I need this to get the job done. I feel as the hours I have put in this year have revealed I have the drive to want to do so.“
After comfortably finishing fourth in the constructors‘ championship Renault are fifth with seven races left in 2019, 1 area behind McLaren.
The regression – and the contrast with the advancement at McLaren – has resulted in disappointment and pressure that was considerable, but Ricciardo says that he expected a difficult season.
„Surely not to be negative, but regardless of even if we were coming sixth every weekend, I knew there were bigger goals and that we were still not going to be in which we wish to be,“ he states.
„Yes, we’re sometimes further back than we anticipated and hoped, but I knew there will be job to be done and a lot of hours to install. I feel as I was prepared for that.
„Although I feel as I’ve worked more hours and probably worked harder this year than in preceding decades, it’s still been quite enjoyable since the environment is somewhat different – new people, new connections.
„If anything, it has reiterated what I need in the sport.“
There have been a few moments on the way, however, if Renault were uncompetitive, and the nadir was a weekend in Austria in the end of June.
„Austria, literally, I can tell you discussions going in my head during that race,“ Ricciardo states. „I am literally driving about – I do not need to mention not current – but my thoughts were’I don’t wish to be here.‘
„Once I say that, I mean:’I really don’t want to be in this situation‘ I had been 14th or some thing and it had been one of those worst evenings. However, it was not a defeat that is head-down, it was’Get me back into the front – . This is not where we ought to be.‘
„So a very bad weekend emphasised my passion and love for your game and how much I really wished to get everyone back around the front, including myself.“
There were a few evenings, too, notably Canada, where a fourth was qualified by Ricciardo, dividing the Ferraris and forward of the two Red Bulls.
„Through some of these struggles, it has been really pretty optimistic for me this year, and it’s actually driven me to want it,“ he says. „That’s been trendy.
„And in an authentic pure favorable – Canada. We have had some lows but high was for me like a pole position. There have already been some moments which have lasted“
The team were never consistent frontrunners, however, Ricciardo took seven victories, also established a reputation as one of the most fascinating drivers of the sport, along with being potentially its character.
The majority of his successes were exceptional, featuring drives through audacious overtaking manoeuvres that are last-minute and the field.
Ricciardo has faded slightly from the limelight this year, but the move to Renault has done nothing to harm his standing.
He has out-paced his team-mate, German Nico Hulkenberg, who has out-qualified Ricciardo four times in 14 races. This performance disparity will have produced Renault’s choice to release Hulkenberg and signal Frenchman Esteban Ocon for at least the next two years more easy.
And if Ricciardo would clearly like to be up, “ he says he is enjoying the high degree of the midfield battle.
„If anything, [qualifying] is more than last year,“ he says. „The battle a lot of the time was just me and Max [Verstappen], in which this season it’s all the midfield. So that receiving the blood flow going. I am enjoying the driving.“
In terms of the car’s functionality, Renault think they understand what has gone wrong this season.
Their performance at tracks like all, and the two races in Belgium and Italy, Canada’power circuits‘, have emphasised the French maker has finally made a step forward with its engine after decades of underperformance. The issue now is that the vehicle.
Ricciardo states:“It appears when I speak to the team, the foundation of the automobile, the principles, the base leadership, has limited us. So we developed it a bit but it’s reached, I don’t want to state its peak, but it can’t truly be developed that far more with this doctrine.
„Thus, as far as today looking at this past year, it feels like they want to change the whole aerodynamic doctrine of the automobile. Rather than focusing on this component of the vehicle, state the element, and trying to create as much downforce at the center, it is like, no, we need to concentrate on the front.
„It feels like it may be more challenging in the beginning, but at the larger picture we’d be getting more downforce’things‘, as we call itfrom this.“
This seems very similar to Renault have done that which Ferrari have completed this season – pursued an aerodynamic doctrine that looks better initially, but which restricts overall downforce; compared to Mercedes, whose car was tougher to get working originally, but is better at the end.
To get Ricciardo, afterward, a lot hangs on Renault getting that right. If they take a step ahead, and can make their leadership work that is new, Ricciardo may well stay. They fear he would leave, if they can’t.
It was emphasised by Renault Sport managing manager Cyril Abiteboul, once he said recently that signing Ocon“was not just about 2020, but also 2021 and what’s happening to his team-mate“.
Can Ricciardo believe Abiteboul supposes he may be looking for pastures new for 2021?
„I certainly haven’t made any decisions yet,“ Ricciardo says. „I have not had this discussion with Cyril. He is frustrated with this year although I don’t want to speak for him.
„I believe part of him feels – I do not wish to say [he believes ] he’s let us down, however, we did expect to perform better.
„When we surfaced this past calendar year, there were higher hopes for this year. We are confident next year will be a good deal better, but he’s thinking probably:’If it does not go [better]would Daniel wish to remain?‘ That’s probably where his head is at and that is probably where these comments come out.
„It is him only being brutally honest with himself and wanting to do better and needing the team to perform better – to basically keep me and any other assets“
The contracts of most leading motorists come up for renewal at the end of 2020. Together with Ricciardo, Sebastian Vettel in Ferrari Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, along with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen are all on the market next year.
„So next year, what might I need to watch?“ He asks. „Obviously improvements – not just from 1 position to the next, but strong improvements that really we can realistically struggle to get a podium at a certain stage next year. This would be inspiring for everybody and quite encouraging.
„I know we are still a long way off that however I believe it’s actually reach. I really don’t think we are dreamers; we only need to clean a couple of things up. I look back in Canada – in case we could accommodate fourth at the race of this season, I still believe what is possible with these men.“
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