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 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 join Renault on a two-year contract for 2019 and 2020 value greater than $50m (#40.2m), along with his newest team began the season with the dream of closing to the top 3 teams.
Renault have slipped back again. But Ricciardo says that he”still feels good” about the choice, has no regrets, which he’d love to continue with the group if they can show enough improvements next season.
“Do I wish to remain? Yes, since hopefully we do get this to another level,” Ricciardo tells BBC Sport in an exclusive interview.
“It was my massive intention to come here. My intention wasn’t to really have a layover someplace else. I really want this to work, although I know people might still feel that. I feel as the hours I have put in this year also have shown I’ve got the drive to want to achieve that.”
After finishing fourth in the constructors’ championship last year, Renault are fifth with seven races left 2019, one spot behind McLaren, a customer of Renault’s engines.
The regression – and the contrast with the progress at McLaren – has led to disappointment and considerable strain, however, Ricciardo says he expected a challenging season all together.
“Surely not to be unfavorable, but no matter if we had been coming sixth every weekend, I understood there were bigger goals and we were not going to be in which we want to function,” he says.
“Yes, we’re sometimes further back than we expected and hoped, however, I knew there could be more work to be done along with a lot of hours to put in. I feel as that I was ready for this.
“Although I feel as I have worked more hours and probably worked harder this year than in preceding decades, it’s still been rather fun since the environment is somewhat different – new people, new connections.
“If anything, it’s reiterated exactly what I need in the game.”
There were a few moments on the way if Renault were uncompetitive, and the nadir was a weekend in Austria at the end of June.
“Austria, literally, I will tell you discussions going in my head during that race,” Ricciardo states. “I’m literally driving about – I do not wish to mention not present – but my thoughts were:’I do not wish to be here.’
“When I say that, I really mean:’I don’t wish to be in this position.’ I was 14th or something and it was one of our weekends. However, it wasn’t a defeat, it was’Get me back into the front – . This is not where we ought to be.’
“So a really awful weekend emphasised my enthusiasm and love for your sport and how much I really wished to get everybody back around the front, including myself.”
There were a few strong evenings, too, notably Canada, in which a fourth was qualified by Ricciardo, splitting the Ferraris and forward of the two Red Bulls.
“Through a number of those struggles, it’s been really very positive for me this season, and it has really driven me want more from it,” he states. “That has been trendy.
“And on an genuine pure optimistic – Canada. We have had some lows like a rod position. There have been some moments which have lasted.”
In five years at Red Bull, the group were never consistent frontrunners, but Ricciardo took seven successes, also established a reputation among the sport’s most exciting drivers.
The majority of his successes were exceptional, featuring drives throughout adventuresome overtaking manoeuvres that are last-minute and the field.
Ricciardo has faded slightly from the limelight this season, however, the transfer to Renault has done nothing to harm his standing.
He has comfortably out-paced his team-mate, German Nico Hulkenberg, that has out-qualified Ricciardo four times in 14 races. This functionality disparity will have produced the choice to launch Hulkenberg and sign Frenchman Esteban Ocon for the next two years of Renault.
And if Ricciardo would like to be up, he says he is enjoying the fight’s strength.
“If anything, [qualifying] is more than a year ago,” he states. “The conflict a great deal of the time was only me Max [Verstappen], in which this season it’s all of the midfield. So that’s certainly getting the blood circulation going. I’m enjoying the milking .”
In terms of the operation of the car, Renault believe they understand what has gone wrong.
Their performance at tracks such as the past two races in Italy and Belgium, along with Canada, all’power circuits’, have shown that the French manufacturer has made a step forward after years of underperformance. The problem is that the car.
Ricciardo says:”It appears when I speak into the team, the base of the car, the principles, the foundation leadership, has limited us. So we developed it a tiny bit but it’s attained, I really don’t need to say its summit, but it can’t really be developed that more with this philosophy.
“So, as much as today considering next year, it feels like they would like to change the entire aerodynamic doctrine of the car. Rather than focusing on this region of the automobile, state the middle part, and attempting to generate as much downforce in the middle, it is like, no, we need to focus on the front.
“It seems like it might be more challenging initially, but in the bigger picture we’d be getting more downforce’points’, as we call itfrom that.”
This sounds very similar to Renault have done that which Ferrari have done this past year – chased an aerodynamic doctrine that looks better , but that limits overall downforce; in contrast to Mercedes, whose car was more difficult to get working originally, but is much better in the end.
For Ricciardo a lot hangs on Renault becoming that right. If they can make their leadership function that is new, and also take a step forward, Ricciardo may well stay. If they can’t, they fear he would leave.
This was emphasised by Renault Sport managing director Cyril Abiteboul, if he said recently that signing Ocon”was not nearly 2020, but also 2021 and what is happening to his own team-mate”.
Does Ricciardo believe Abiteboul suspects he might be looking for pastures new for 2021?
“I definitely have not made any decisions yet,” Ricciardo states. “I have not had this conversation with Cyril. I don’t want to talk for him, but he’s frustrated for this season.
“I think a part of him feels as though – I don’t want to say [he believes ] he’s let us down, however, we did hope to perform better.
“After we chatted last calendar year, there were greater hopes for this year. We’re confident next year is going to be a whole great deal better, but he is thinking probably:’When it doesn’t move [better]would Daniel wish to stay?’ That is probably where his head is at and that’s probably where those comments come out.
“It is him only being honest with himself and wanting to do better and desiring the team to do better – to basically keep me and some other assets”
The contracts of most drivers come up for renewal at the end of 2020. Along with Ricciardo, Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, along with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen are on the market next year.
“So next year, what will I need to watch?” He asks. “Needless to improvements – not only from one position to the next, but solid improvements that really we can realistically fight for a podium at some point a year ago. This would be inspiring for everyone and encouraging.
“I understand we’re still a long way off that however I believe it is actually reach. I do not think we’re dreamers; we only need to clean up a couple of things. I look back at Canada – in case we can accommodate fourth in the seventh race of the season, I still believe anything is possible with those guys.”
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