Daniel Ricciardo Renault contract: ‘Huge’ F1 statement, Red Bull
DANIEL Ricciardo’s bombshell move to quit Red Bull and join Renault is symbolic of something far greater, his future team says.
James [email protected]
news.com.auAugust 28, 20188:38pm
Ricciardo: I felt a hit1:23
F1: Daniel Ricciardo gives his take on the Lap 1 crash that all but ended his race soon after it started.
- August 27th 2018
- 2 days ago
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DANIEL Ricciardo took a leap of faith by quitting Red Bull for Renault next year and his new team knows it has to repay that vote of confidence.
While it was honest in admitting to the Aussie F1 star it won’t be as quick as his soon-to-be former team in 2019, Ricciardo revealed Renault’s long-term vision was part of the appeal of signing on.
The French outfit may have talked the talk about its future plans but it needs to walk the walk to do right by Ricciardo. Renault doesn’t want the 29-year-old to regret his switch and the pressure is on the team to create an environment where success is possible, boss Cyril Abiteboul said.
“I feel that we are obliged now to him. We had an obligation before to perform and continue the progression, but we have a further obligation not to hurt someone who is one of the most charismatic drivers in the paddock,” Abiteboul told Crash Net. “I think everyone wants him to be in a position to be in a good car, a good team, fight for wins, fight for podiums first.
“Now we have that obligation, not in two or three years’ time, but we have that obligation now towards him.”
Landing Ricciardo’s services next year is not just a shot in the arm for Abiteboul and Co., but it also sends a message to the rest of the grid that Renault has every intention of building itself into a powerhouse to compete with the top dogs of the sport.
Sitting fourth in the constructors’ standings behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, Renault isn’t expecting to shoot to the top as soon as Ricciardo joins its stable, but it is hoping to show signs of improvement that will put other teams on notice it has the potential to become a real force.
Asked if signing Ricciardo was an indication to its rivals Renault was intending to shake up the established order of F1 and turn itself into a major player, Abiteboul was bullish about what his outfit wants to achieve.
“Yes … the statement is huge,” Abiteboul said. “There are a number of things that we are doing but we are doing in the back office that people don’t perceive.
“I think there have been many more things that should be able to demonstrate that intent, but maybe that people are not capable of judging.
“When we’re talking about all the investment, extra buildings, new dyno, it’s huge … But people don’t really see that. But a driver, people understand that.
“So I would say that it’s maybe not the biggest one, in terms of materiality, but I would say, going back to the ‘wow’ effect, we’re in a world where you need to have symbols. I would say Daniel is a symbol of all the things that we have done previously.”
Red Bull’s progress has been hindered by its use of Renault engines, which have proven unreliable. It’s why the energy drink team has switched power unit suppliers and partnered with Honda in 2019.
Read: Red Bull justifies 2019 change-up
Honda powers Red Bull’s junior outfit Toro Rosso and team boss Christian Horner has been impressed with the development he’s seen.
Although Max Verstappen finished third at the Belgian Grand Prix on the weekend while Ricciardo failed to finish, over half a minute separated the lead Red Bull from race winner Sebastian Vettel.
“We need to make a step,” Horner said. “You can see the gap (to Mercedes and Ferrari) is significant.
“Honda are making great progress. They are scoring points regularly and you can see they are making headway.”
Red Bull has endured a frosty relationship with Renault, often trading barbs over grievances about engine performance. But Abiteboul said last week Ricciardo’s current employer wasn’t able to impress the West Australian with its “unimpressive” pitch about what the future would be like with Honda power units.
Read: Ricciardo didn’t buy ‘unimpressive joke’
“I don’t think he was impressed by Red Bull’s communications strategy, vis a vis Renault, vis a vis Honda, and how perfect Honda is,” Abiteboul told Motorsport.com.
“I think it’s a bit unfair to Renault. I think Honda is progressing, but all the communication of Toro Rosso regarding Honda, when Honda has already introduced 11 or 12 power units.
“Frankly it’s a joke, and unimpressive. That they can influence a guy like (Riciardo’s replacement at Red Bull in 2019) Pierre Gasly I can understand, and not a driver like Daniel Ricciardo, and that I respect.”
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