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By Andrew Benson
Chief F1 writer
It hasn’t been an easy year at Renault, however Daniel Ricciardo nevertheless claims this year has”emphasised his love” for Formula 1.
The Australian seven-time winner made Red Bull to combine Renault on a yearlong contract for 2019 and 2020 worth greater than $50m (#40.2m), along with his new team started the season with all the dream of closing on the top 3 teams.
Renault have slid backward. But Ricciardo says he”still feels good” about the conclusion, doesn’t have regrets, and that he would love to continue with the staff if they can show sufficient improvements next year.
“Do I need to stay? Yes, because ideally we do get this to the next level,” Ricciardo tells BBC Sport in an exclusive interview.
“It was my massive intention to come here. My intention wasn’t to have a two-year layover. I know people might still feel that, but I want this to get the job done. I feel as the hours that I have put in this year also have shown I have the drive to want to do so.”
After finishing fourth in the constructors’ championship this past year, Renault are with seven races left in 2019, 1 location behind McLaren.
The regression – and the contrast with the progress at McLaren – has resulted in important internal strain and disappointment, however, Ricciardo says that he was anticipating a season.
“Surely not to be unwanted, but no matter if we had been coming sixth every weekend, I knew there were still bigger targets and that we were not going to be in which we would like to be,” he says.
“Yes, we are sometimes farther back than we anticipated and hoped, but I knew there will be work to be done and a great deal of hours to install. I feel as that I was prepared for that.
“Although I feel as I’ve worked more hours and probably worked harder this year than in prior years, it’s still been quite fun since the environment is significantly different – new people, new relationships.
“If anything, it has reiterated exactly what I need from the sport.”
There were a few moments along the way, though, and the nadir had been a weekend in Austria in the end of June when Renault were uncompetitive.
“Austria, actually, I can tell you conversations going in my head during this race,” Ricciardo says. “I’m literally driving about – I do not need to mention not present – but my ideas were’I don’t wish to be here.’
“When I say that, I suggest:’I don’t wish to be in this situation’ I was 14th or something and it was one of our evenings. Nevertheless, it was not a defeat that is head-down, it was’Get me back into the front – . This isn’t where we should be.’
“So a really lousy weekend emphasised my passion and love for the game and how much I really wanted to get everyone back around the front, such as myself.”
There were a few weekends, also, especially Canada, in which Ricciardo splitting the Ferraris, qualified a brilliant fourth and forward of the two Red Bulls.
“Through some of these struggles, it’s been really quite positive for me this season, and it’s really driven me want it,” he says. “That has been trendy.
“And in an authentic pure optimistic – Canada. We’ve had some lows but high was like a pole position. There have already been some moments that have lasted.”
The team were never frontrunners, however, Ricciardo took seven successes, and established a reputation among the most fascinating drivers of the sport, in addition to being possibly its most likeable and amusing character.
The majority of his victories were outstanding, featuring drives through the area and overtaking manoeuvres that are audacious.
The transfer to Renault has done nothing to harm his standing, although ricciardo has faded slightly from the limelight this year.
He has out-paced his team-mate, German Nico Hulkenberg, who has out-qualified Ricciardo four occasions in 14 races. This functionality disparity will have made Renault’s decision to release Hulkenberg and sign Frenchman Esteban Ocon for the following two years simpler.
And if Ricciardo would obviously like to be up, ” he says he is enjoying the strength of the fight that is midfield.
“If anything, [qualifying] is tighter than a year ago,” he says. “The conflict a great deal of the time was only me and Max [Verstappen], where this season it’s all the midfield. So that is definitely getting the blood circulation. I’m enjoying the driving”
As for the car’s operation, Renault think they know what has gone wrong this year.
Their performance at tracks such as all, along with the two races in Belgium and Italy, Canada’power circuits’, have emphasised the French maker has made a step forward after decades of underperformance with its motor. The problem is your car.
Ricciardo states:”It seems when I talk to the team, the foundation of the car, the fundamentals, the foundation leadership, has restricted us. So we developed it a bit but it’s attained, I really don’t wish to state its peak, but it can not really be developed that far more with this doctrine.
“So, as far as today considering next year, it seems like they would like to modify the entire aerodynamic doctrine of the vehicle. Instead of focusing on this portion of the automobile, say the center element, and seeking to generate as much downforce at the middle, it’s like, no, we will need to concentrate on the front.
“It feels like it may be more challenging at first, but at the bigger picture we would be getting more downforce’points’, as we call it, from this.”
This seems very much like Renault have done exactly what Ferrari have completed this year – chased an aerodynamic doctrine that looks better , but that limits overall downforce; in contrast to Mercedes, whose car was harder to get working initially, but is better at the end.
For Ricciardo, subsequently, a lot hangs on Renault getting that right. If they take a step forward, and could make their direction work that is new, Ricciardo might remain. They fear he would leave, if they can not.
That was emphasised by Renault Sport managing manager Cyril Abiteboul, ” he stated recently that signing Ocon”was not nearly 2020, but also 2021 and what is happening to his team-mate”.
Can Ricciardo believe Abiteboul supposes he might be looking for pastures new for 2021?
“I definitely haven’t made any decisions yet,” Ricciardo states. “I haven’t had this conversation with Cyril. I don’t wish to talk for himbut he is frustrated with this season.
“I think part of him feels – I really don’t need to say [he believes ] he has let us down, but we did hope to perform better.
“When we surfaced this past calendar year, there were higher hopes for this season. He is believing probably, although we are confident next year will be a great deal better:’In case it does not move [better]would Daniel want to stay?’ That’s probably where his head’s at and that is likely where these comments come out.
“It’s him just being brutally honest with himself and wanting to do better and needing the team to perform better – to basically keep me and any other resources ”
The contracts of leading motorists come up for renewal at the end of 2020. Along with Ricciardo, Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen are on the market next year.
“Next year, what would I want to watch?” He asks. “Obviously improvements – not just from 1 position to the next, but solid improvements that really we could realistically struggle to get a podium at some stage a year ago. That would be encouraging and inspiring for everybody.
“I understand we’re still a long way off that however I still believe it’s in reach. I do not think we are dreamers; we just have to clean up a few things. I look back at Canada – if we can qualify fourth at the seventh race of this season, I still believe what is possible with those guys.”
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