Daniel Ricciardo ended the 2018 Formula One season in 6th place of the Driver’s Championship standings with 170 points. In 2019 he is currently in 11th position with 22 points. Formula 1 is a sport that moves very fast – literally – and for Ricciardo the second half of the season needs to include progress being made at Renault just as fast. Otherwise, the decision to leave Aston Martin Red Bull Racing may be one the Honey Badger regrets…even if he never actually says so.
Daniel Ricciardo is an extremely talented racer and is fully deserving of more than the 7 victories he has already achieved at the pinnacle of motorsport. He is highly regarded as one of the best drivers on the grid when it comes to out-braking opponents and overtaking when given the slightest opportunity. The Perth native, who turned 30 last month, was clearly presented a plan of what Renault had in store and it was enough to bring him over from Aston Martin Red Bull Racing.
Renault is a team that was never foolhardy about their expectations though because they have always said it would take 5 years to be back challenging at the front. All signs showed that this was a realistic ambition seeing how at the end of 2018 they achieved 122 points and with it fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship.
Unfortunately, Renault is not where it planned on being with regard to the performance of their 2019 challenger. However, there is little wrong with the engine seeing how McLaren is using the same power unit and has 81 points compared with Renault’s 39.
Despite the performance to date, Daniel Ricciardo insists that he has no regrets but now change needs to come:
“I don't want to say in line [with expectations], because obviously I hoped for more, but I knew it wasn't going to happen like this.”
Ricciardo is aware of where unexpected success in the first half of the season came from:
“So if I look at Canada, the qualifying, I'd actually say that exceeded probably some expectation in the first few races, but then obviously some other races like Austria, that was lower than our expectations.”
Basically, the story of the 2019 season for Renault so far has been a lack of consistency as Ricciardo is quick to point out:
“So we bounced around in between everything really, but now at this halfway point I think we could say, alright, we need to do better, if we want to be on target for podiums in 2020, we need to start making bigger steps for the second half of the year.
Way back in China, after qualifying 7th, Ricciardo said:
“We’ll obviously try to target the guys ahead but if both cars finish 7th and 8th tomorrow, you know, we’re probably not popping champagne bottles but I think we’re all going to be pretty pleased because I guess that’s where we are at the moment. But, of course, try and target a bit further.”
When the season restarts in 9 days with Free Practice 1 at Spa-Francorchamps, you would have to assume Renault would be popping the champagne bottles if they could get a 7th and 8th place finish because based on the performance of the big 3’ and McLaren…that is hard to see. However, for Ricciardo, he already has his sights set on more than that:
“Up until now, let's say I'm somewhere in the middle with expectations, but I would now expect the second half of the season to have some more regular, whatever it is, top-six finishes.”
We can certainly hope that this comes to pass for the much loved Aussie because such a talent needs to be given a car capable of challenging the best. Lewis Hamilton has already said he hopes for more competition this season. If Renault make the progress expected and hoped for then it would be great if in Abu Dhabi, Ricciardo was one of those racers challenging the 5-time world champion for the win.
In the world of Formula 1 – anything can happen.
Speaking of new things happening...change may also be coming to Williams next year: