Fair to say his first season at Renault hasn’t exactly gone to the plan Daniel Ricciardo had wished for. The French team actually aimed to dominate the Formula 1 midfield and close the gap to the top three teams.
Instead, they are only fifth in the Constructors’ World Championship and Ricciardo himself is currently eighth in the Drivers’ World Championship, a piss poor effort in most fans eyes. This raises the question of how the Australian will continue in 2021 at Renault.
Ricciardo’s two-year contract expires at the end of next season. “In any case, I haven’t made a decision yet,” he explains to the “BBC” and reports: “I haven’t had this discussion with Cyril [Abiteboul] yet. It is already clear that Esteban Ocon will move from Mercedes to Renault and drive for the French in 2020 and 2021.
That leaves only one Renault seat free in 2021. But the question is not only whether Renault wants to continue with Ricciardo – but also vice versa. “I don’t want to speak for him, but he is frustrated by this year,” Ricciardo explains with regard to Team Principal Abiteboul, adding: “I think some of him believes … I don’t want to say that he disappointed us.”
“But we expected to do better,” confesses Ricciardo and reveals: “When we spoke last year the hopes for this year were higher. Abiteboul has recently indicated in various statements that Ricciardo could leave the team again in 2021.
But “We are confident that things will go much better next year,” says Ricciardo.
“But he [Cyril] probably thinks to himself: ‘If that doesn’t happen, why should Daniel want to stay?’ That’s probably how he thinks, and that’s why these comments came out,” believes the former Red Bull driver and explains: “He’s just brutally honest with himself and wants to do better. And he wants the team to do it better – to keep me and others.”
Sounds bad to this Judge’s ears, the French project is a failing one, and F1 fans should be concerned. The biggest car manufacturer on the face of the globe cannot compete within a few seconds of the front teams after several years of trying with relatively stable regulations plus a significant increase of budget, proves that Formula 1 is broken beyond repair. Even looking toward 2021’s rule changes.
Ricciardo knows this, an will no doubt keep his options open.
The fact is that several top teams will be looking for drivers to race in 2021. Among others, the contracts of Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Max Verstappen (Red Bull) will expire. One can assume that Ricciardo will at least keep his eyes and ears open there. So it begs the question, what would be necessary for Renault 2020 to keep Ricciardo?
“Improvements, of course – not just for a position, but solid improvements that will allow us to realistically fight for the podium from a point next year. That would be very encouraging and motivating for everyone,” explains Ricciardo and adds: “I know that we’re still a long way off. But I still believe it’s within reach.”
He calls the race in Canada his encouragement, where he qualified fourth on the grid and finished sixth on Sunday. Most recently at Monza Renault clinched the best result of the current season with a fourth and fifth place. However, it is not yet clear whether this was the beginning of an upward trend or just a flash in the pan. This will only become apparent in the coming weeks.
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