When Daniel Ricciardo left Red Bull for Renault, he already knew he wouldn’t have seen the two wins and two pole-positions scored in 2018 for a while. Nevertheless he’s always been honest with medias and most importantly with himself about the underperforming season Renault has gone thorugh this year: fourth in the constructor’s championship in 2018, the French team lost the ‘best of the rest’ battle against McLaren ending up fifth overall, with its drivers respectively ninth and fourteenth.
Despite not performing as expected, the yellow painted number #3 car has reached some great results throughout the year, with the two highlights being the fourth place conquered in the Canadian’s qualifying session and the P4 finish in Monza.
“I expected it, I didn’t expect it to be easy so yes, I expected some hurdles, some challenges” stated Daniel Ricciardo. “I don’t know what I expected but I hoped for better results than we’ve had, more consistently. We’ve had some big results but I didn’t expect some bigger results than the fourth place that we got in Monza… but our worst results were worse than I hoped.”
With the arrival in 2020 at Enstone of former Ferrari and McLaren engineer Pat Fry, Renault is confident on the possibility of a huge step forward, also fuelled up by the disappointing year now in the books: “This season hasn’t taken any wind out of our sails, it’s just a bit more fuel for the fire.”
Also the positivity taken from the highs of this season will push the team forward, as Ricciardo admitted: “We haven’t reached the real rewards yet. But even just seeing how relationships have been formed with members of the team, you don’t forget the highs: After qualifying fourth in Canada and seeing everyone, there was a happiness but also a weight off everyone’s shoulders – we can do it, we can run at the front. So, like, these moments, they’re encouraging, they’re inspiring. It’s cool.”
What’s the goal set for next year then? The Honey Badger has no doubt and aims high: “I think we can get this going next year for where we can still believe in 2020. [We’re on track] to reach some podiums next year. Yeah, it’s a stretch, but I do believe that if we do what we believe we can, it’s still there.”
Hopefully there will be a lot more to come, alongside Pat Fry and Esteban Ocon, for Renault, in what Ricciardo has labelled as a “year of transition” for the team.