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

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By Andrew Benson
Chief F1 author
It hasn’t been an easy year in Renault, however Daniel Ricciardo nevertheless says that this year has»emphasised his love» for Formula 1.
The Australian seven-time winner left Red Bull to combine Renault on a two-year contract for 2019 and 2020 worth greater than $50m (#40.2m), and also his team began the season with all the dream of closing to the top three teams.
Instead, Renault have slipped backwards. But Ricciardo says that he»still feels good» about the conclusion, doesn’t have regrets, which he would like to continue using the group if they could show adequate improvements next season.
«Do I wish to stay? Yes, because ideally we do get this to another level,» Ricciardo informs BBC Sport in a private interview.
«It had been my massive aim to come here. My intention wasn’t to really have a two-year layover. I truly need this to get the job done, although I know people might still feel that. I feel as the hours I have put in this year also 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 one area behind McLaren, a client of Renault’s motors.
The regression — and the contrast with the startling advancement at McLaren — has resulted in pressure that was considerable and disappointment, however, Ricciardo says that he was anticipating a difficult season all together.
«Definitely not to be negative, but no matter if we had been coming sixth each weekend, I knew there were bigger goals and we were not going to be where we want to function,» he says.
«Yes, we are sometimes farther back than we anticipated and hoped, but I understood there would be work to be done along with a great deal of hours to install. I feel like that I had been ready for that.
«Although I feel as I’ve worked more hours and worked harder this year than in previous decades, it has been very enjoyable because the environment is somewhat different — new people, new relationships.
«If anything, it’s reiterated what I want from the sport.»
There have been some moments on the way when Renault were uncompetitive and the nadir had been a weekend in Austria at the end of June.
«Austria, literally, I will tell you discussions going in my mind during this race,» Ricciardo says. «I am literally driving about — I don’t need to mention not present — but my thoughts were:’I do not want to be here’
«Once I say that, I suggest:’I really don’t need to be in this place’ I had been 14th or something and it had been one of the weekends. Nevertheless, it wasn’t a head-down defeat, it was:’Get me back into the front — . This isn’t where we should be.’
«So a really bad weekend emphasised my passion and love for the game and how much I really wished to get everyone back around the front, including myself.»
There were some evenings, too, especially Canada, in which Ricciardo splitting the Ferraris qualified a brilliant fourth and forward of both Red Bulls.
«Through a number of these struggles, it’s been really quite optimistic for me this season, and it has really driven me want more from it,» he says. «That has been cool.
«And on an actual pure positive — Canada. We have had some lows 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 successes, also established a reputation among the sport drivers, as well as being possibly its funny and most bizarre character.
The majority of his victories were outstanding, featuring drives throughout adventuresome last-minute overtaking manoeuvres and the field.
Ricciardo has faded slightly from the limelight this season, however, the move into Renault has done nothing to harm his standing.
He has comfortably out-paced his team-mate, German Nico Hulkenberg, who has out-qualified Ricciardo just four occasions in 14 races. This functionality disparity will have left Renault’s decision to release Hulkenberg and signal Frenchman Esteban Ocon for the following two years more easy.
And while Ricciardo would obviously prefer to be up, he says he is enjoying the strength of the battle that is midfield.
«If anything, [qualifying] is tighter than a year ago,» he says. «The conflict a great deal of time was just me and Max [Verstappen], in which this season it is all of the midfield. So that is certainly getting the blood flow. I am enjoying the milking .»
As for the functionality of the car, Renault think they understand what has gone wrong this season.
Their performance at tracks such as all, and the two races in Belgium and Italy, Canada’power circuits’, have emphasised that the French manufacturer has made a fantastic step forward after years of underperformance. The issue is that the vehicle.
Ricciardo says:»It appears when I talk to the group, the base of the automobile, the principles, the base direction, has limited us. We developed it a bit but it’s attained, I really don’t wish to say its summit, but it ca be developed that much more with this philosophy.
«So, as far as now looking at next year, it seems like they would like to modify the entire aerodynamic philosophy of the car. Rather than focusing on this part of the vehicle, say the middle element, and trying to generate as much downforce in the middle, it is like, no, we will need to concentrate on the front.
«It feels like it might be more challenging initially, but at the larger picture we would be getting more downforce’things’, as we call itfrom that.»
This sounds very similar to Renault have done exactly what Ferrari have completed this year — pursued an aerodynamic doctrine that looks better initially, but that limits overall downforce; in contrast to Mercedes, whose automobile was tougher to get working initially, but is better at the end.
For Ricciardo, afterward, a lot hangs on Renault getting that right. If they just take a step forward, and could make their direction work that is new, Ricciardo may remain. They fear he would leave if they can not.
It was emphasised by Renault Sport managing manager Cyril Abiteboul, » he said recently that signing Ocon»wasn’t nearly 2020, but in addition 2021 and what is happening to his team-mate».
Can Ricciardo believe Abiteboul suspects he may be on the lookout for pastures new for 2021?
«I certainly haven’t made any decisions yet,» Ricciardo states. «I have not had this talk with Cyril. I don’t wish to talk for him, but he’s frustrated with this season.
«I believe a part of him feels as though — I do not wish to say [he feels] he has let us down, but we did expect to do better.
«When we surfaced last year, there have been greater hopes for this season. We are convinced next year will be a whole lot better, but he’s presuming probably:’When it does not move [better], why would Daniel wish to stay?’ That’s probably where his head’s at and that is probably where these comments come out.
«It’s him just being honest with himself wanting to perform better and needing the team to perform better — to basically keep me and any other assets.»
Most drivers’ contracts come up for renewal at the end of 2020. Together with Ricciardo, Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari, equally Mercedes motorists Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen are on the market next year.
«Next year, what will I need to see?» He asks rhetorically. «Needless to improvements — not only from 1 position to the next, but solid improvements that actually we could realistically fight for a podium at a certain point a year ago. That would be motivating for everyone and encouraging.
«I understand we’re still a long way off that however I believe it is actually reach. I don’t think we’re dreamers; we just have to clean up a few things. I still look back at Canada — when we could qualify fourth in the race of the season, I believe anything’s possible with these men.»
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