Daniel Ricciardo: Was Renault spell a success as F1 star joins McLaren in 2021?

Daniel Ricciardo ‘had his heart set on Ferrari’ says expert

Daniel Ricciardo left Red Bull at the end of the 2018 season to join Renault on a two-year deal. However, in May last year, it was announced he would be switching to McLaren for the 2021 campaign, taking the seat vacated by Carlos Sainz, who has now moved to Ferrari as Sebastian Vettel’s replacement.

Asked why he made an early decision to leave Renault, Ricciardo said: “I think obviously Vettel’s announcement or news with Ferrari kind of sparked everything, and then things were moving pretty quickly around Carlos and all the other stuff.

“I don’t think there was, although it seemed like maybe there was still time, I don’t actually think there was, to make movement, if that’s what you were kind of going for.

“If we start racing – and this is all just obviously what I’m playing in my head – if you start racing in July, which wasn’t 100%, let’s say we did, which we are by the looks of it, you’ve then got a few races.

“You’re not going to find out [everyone’s form] in the first race, the second race – you’re probably going to wait ‘til August, maybe even September ‘til you really know where everyone’s at.

“And I think by then it was going to be too late to get something you were really after.”

Was Daniel Ricciardo’s time at Renault a success?

Ricciardo came ninth in the drivers’ championship in his first season with Renault.

He scored 54 points but failed to get on the podium.

In his second and final season, the Australian came fifth in the standings.

He finished with two podiums and collected an impressive 119 points, 52 more than his team-mate Esteban Ocon who finished 12th.

Despite not winning a race, Ricciardo still views his time at Renault as a success.

He said: “If I’m to generalise it, I would say it’s been a success.

“I guess there’s levels of success. Real success would be winning a title in the two years, but definitely stepping on the podium a couple of times made it feel like a success.

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“It’s not like we fluked some good results. I really believe we were there and we persisted.

“There were so many fourth places, and we finally made it happen.

“But I think the turnaround as well, to see the step from last year to this year, shows that the work that was done last year, the building blocks definitely came to fruition, and we got a lot of use out of that learning from 2019.

“I’m not obviously claiming it all, but the feedback I was giving and trying to help out and everyone was trying to move forward.

“So I see it as a success from that point of view.”

Ricciardo also feels the team grew in confidence over the course of his two-year spell.

He said: “I saw a lot more confidence in the team, just as far as personnel.

“There was that feeling now that, ‘yeah, we can do it’, where I felt like I walked into a bit more of a timid environment early on.

“It’s not criticism. It’s just the team wasn’t used to it. They hadn’t been successful in quite a few years, so everyone can start to have some self-doubts.”

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