Renault Sport seems to be doing all it can to stop Daniel Ricciardo beaming his trademark smile. Obviously, they are not doing this on purpose but the major upgrade package Renault recently applied to their R.S.19 has not lived up to the hype, the promise or…the expectation. All this at a time when Max Verstappen has claimed his first victory of the season with Ricciardo’s former team and McLaren have opened up a 20-point lead on the French manufacturer.
Daniel Ricciardo left Aston Martin Red Bull Racing in the hope of finding a new challenge with a new team. Well, he is certainly getting a challenge just maybe one more difficult than he had expected or probably been promised in his negotiations last year.
There is no doubting that the much loved Aussie has had a difficult start to the 2019 season but after his team’s success in Canada when they secured a double points finish, the progress seems to be taking a step back with Silverstone around the corner and a finishing position of 12th last time out in Austria – just ahead of his teammate Nico Hulkenberg. Although with a calmer head, Ricciardo could have returned from France with a good haul of points…but that is in the past.
Daniel Ricciardo spoke to Autosport and shared his thoughts on his team’s current situation with Silverstone just over a week away:
“I really hope we’re going to find something this week because, for example, Le Castellet was a lot windier yet I didn’t really feel affected by the wind, [in Austria] the car felt like there was massive turbulence during the race, in terms of the way it was handling, and the high-speed was very light…So I feel something still wasn’t quite right on the car this weekend, what that is, we still don’t know, but I’d like to believe we’re going to find something because right now it doesn’t add up.”
Renault need to find the solution quickly because they are 20 points adrift of their customer team McLaren and with the form being shown by Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris – they clearly have a real fight on their hands to get back in front.
If rumours are to be believed (it is the silly season after all) they may also have a fight on their hands to hold on to Ricciardo if Sebastian Vettel departs Scuderia Ferrari at the end of the season. Now, this is a huge ‘if’ but stranger things have happened in F1. After all, who expected Nico Rosberg to retire days after claiming the World Championship?
Daniel Ricciardo has a two-year contract with Renault but in the same way as there has been talk of Max Verstappen having release clauses in his contract, I would not be surprised to see that Ricciardo has planned for a similar situation allowing him to leave for Scuderia Ferrari or even Mercedes if a seat became available.
This is all speculation though, for now the native from Perth with the million-dollar smile drives for Renault and signed off his interview with the press with a return to his good humoured nature telling the media:
“For now, I remain optimistic that I’ll be like ‘that was what was wrong’, and then we’ll be in Silverstone laughing.”
Many a Daniel Ricciardo fan is eagerly awaiting this day too because they know what this talented driver is capable driver…if only he had a car as capable as he is.