It has not been an accessible year at Renault, but Daniel Ricciardo about says this division has “emphasised his love” for Formula 1.
The Australian seven-time champ larboard Red Bull to accompany Renault on a two-year arrangement for 2019 and 2020 account added than $50m (£40.2m), and his new aggregation started the division with the appetite of closing on the top three teams.
Instead, Renault accept slipped backwards. But Ricciardo says he “still feels good” about the decision, has no regrets, and that he would like to abide with the aggregation if they can appearance acceptable improvements abutting season.
“Do I appetite to stay? Yes, because alluringly we do get this to the abutting level,” Ricciardo tells BBC Action in an absolute interview.
“It was my massive ambition to appear here. My ambition wasn’t to accept a two-year layover about else. I apperceive bodies ability still anticipate that, but I absolutely appetite this to work. I feel like the hours I accept put in this year accept apparent I accept the drive to appetite to do so.”
After calmly finishing fourth in the constructors’ championship aftermost year, Renault are fifth with seven contest larboard in 2019, one abode abaft McLaren, a chump of Renault’s engines.
The corruption – and the adverse with the amazing advance at McLaren – has led to disappointment and cogent centralized pressure, but Ricciardo says he was assured a difficult division all along.
“Definitely not to be negative, but behindhand of alike if we were advancing sixth every weekend, I knew there were still bigger targets and that we were still not activity to be area we appetite to be,” he says.
“Yes, we’re at times added aback than we accepted and hoped, but I knew there would be assignment to be done and a lot of hours to put in. I feel like I was able for that.
“Even admitting I feel like I accept formed added hours and apparently formed harder this year than in antecedent years, it has still been absolutely agreeable because the ambiance is altered – new people, new relationships.
“If anything, it has common what I appetite in the sport.”
There accept been some aphotic moments forth the way, though, and the abject was a weekend in Austria at the end of June aback Renault were uncompetitive.
“Austria, literally, I can acquaint you conversations activity in my arch during that race,” Ricciardo says. “I am absolutely active about – I don’t appetite to say not present – but my thoughts were: ‘I don’t appetite to be here.’
“When I say that, I mean: ‘I don’t appetite to be in this position.’ I was 14th or article and it was one of our affliction weekends. But it wasn’t a head-down defeat, it was: ‘Get me aback to the advanced – this is not area I should be. This is not area we should be.’
“So a absolutely bad weekend emphasised my affection and adulation for the action and how abundant I capital to get anybody aback up to the front, including myself.”
There accept been some able weekends, too, abnormally Canada, area Ricciardo able a ablaze fourth, agreeable the Ferraris and advanced of both Red Bulls.
“Through some of these struggles, it has been absolutely absolutely absolute for me this year, and it’s absolutely apprenticed me to appetite added from it,” he says. “That’s been cool.
“And on an absolute authentic absolute – Canada. We’ve had some lows but that aerial was for me like a pole position. There accept been some moments that accept lasted.”
In bristles years at Red Bull, the aggregation were never constant frontrunners, but Ricciardo took seven victories, and accustomed a acceptability as one of the sport’s best agitative drivers, in accession to actuality possibly its best absorbing and agreeable character.
Most of his victories were outstanding, featuring drives through the acreage and adventurous last-minute overtaking manoeuvres.
Ricciardo has accordingly achromatic hardly from the accent this year, but the move to Renault has done annihilation to accident his acceptability as a driver.
He has calmly out-paced his team-mate, German Nico Hulkenberg, who has out-qualified Ricciardo alone four times in 14 races. This achievement alterity will accept fabricated Renault’s accommodation to absolution Hulkenberg and assurance Frenchman Esteban Ocon for at atomic the abutting two years all the easier.
And while Ricciardo would acutely adopt to be added up, he says he is adequate the acuteness of the midfield fight.
“If anything, [qualifying] is tighter than aftermost year,” he says. “The action a lot of the time was aloof me and Max [Verstappen], area this year it’s all the midfield. So that’s absolutely accepting the claret breeze going. I am adequate the driving.”
As for the car’s performance, Renault anticipate they apperceive what has gone amiss this year.
Their able achievement at advance such as Canada, and the accomplished two contest in Belgium and Italy, all ‘power circuits’, accept emphasised that the French architect has assuredly fabricated a acceptable footfall advanced with its agent afterwards years of underperformance. The affair now is the car.
Ricciardo says: “It seems aback I allege to the team, the abject of the car, the fundamentals, the abject direction, has bound us. So we developed it a little bit but it’s reached, I don’t appetite to say its peak, but it can’t absolutely be developed that abundant added with this philosophy.
“So, as far as now attractive at abutting year, it seems like they appetite to change the accomplished aerodynamic aesthetics of the car. Instead of absorption on this allotment of the car, say the average part, and aggravating to accomplish as abundant downforce in the middle, it’s like, no, we charge to focus on the front.
“It seems like it ability be added difficult at first, but in the bigger account we’d be accepting added downforce ‘points’, as we alarm it, from that.”
This sounds actual abundant like Renault accept done what Ferrari accept done this year – pursued an aerodynamic aesthetics that looks bigger initially, but which banned all-embracing downforce; in adverse to Mercedes, whose car was harder to get alive initially, but is bigger in the end.
For Ricciardo, then, a lot hangs on Renault accepting that right. If they can accomplish their new administration work, and booty a big footfall forward, Ricciardo may able-bodied stay. If they can’t, they abhorrence he would leave.
This was emphasised by Renault Action managing administrator Cyril Abiteboul, aback he said afresh that signing Ocon “wasn’t aloof about 2020, but additionally 2021 and what’s accident to his team-mate”.
Does Ricciardo anticipate Abiteboul suspects he ability be attractive for pastures new for 2021?
“I absolutely haven’t fabricated any decisions yet,” Ricciardo says. “I haven’t had this altercation with Cyril. I don’t appetite to allege for him, but he’s balked with this year.
“I anticipate allotment of him feels like – I don’t appetite to say [he feels] he’s let us down, but we did apprehend to do better.
“When we chatted aftermost year, there were college hopes for this year. We’re assured abutting year is activity to be a lot better, but he’s cerebration probably: ‘If it doesn’t go [better], why would Daniel appetite to stay?’ That’s apparently area his head’s at and that’s apparently area those comments appear from.
“It’s him aloof actuality atrociously honest with himself and absent to do bigger and absent the aggregation to do bigger – to basically accumulate me and any added assets.”
The affairs of best top drivers appear up for face-lifting at the end of 2020. Forth with Ricciardo, Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari, both Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen are all on the bazaar abutting year.
“So abutting year, what would I charge to see?” he asks rhetorically. “Obviously improvements – not aloof from one position to the next, but solid improvements that absolutely we could realistically action for a belvedere at some point abutting year. That would be actual auspicious and affective for everyone.
“I apperceive we’re still a continued way off that but I still accept it’s in reach. I don’t anticipate we’re dreamers; we aloof accept to apple-pie up a few things. I still attending aback at Canada – if we can authorize fourth at the seventh chase of the season, I still accept anything’s accessible with these guys.”
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