Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo admitted in Canada that it is becoming difficult to maintain his famously wide grin amid his team’s struggles with a woefully out of sorts Renault power unit.
A year after his famous maiden win in Montreal, the Australian found himself toiling behind not only Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams but now found himself staring at the rear-end of Lotus and Force India.
Ricciardo summed up his afternoon at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, “It’s been a strange weekend for me and I am a little confused about today’s race. I was lacking pace and we are not sure why. There was nothing that felt especially wrong but we just couldn’t get any pace out of the car.”
“It’s frustrating. One year later, things shouldn’t be getting worse, but they are,” the Australian told reporters in Montreal.
The ‘one year on’ comment is a reference to 2014 in Canada, where after a difficult start to the new ‘power unit’ era for Red Bull-Renault, Ricciardo nonetheless broke through for his first ever race win.
So instead of his usual big grin, Ricciardo said after qualifying ninth that it left him “p*ssed off” as the team appears stuck in a rut of little progress.
“We don’t seem to be propelling forward at the moment which is disappointing,” said the 25-year-old.
Ricciardo is already being linked with a move away from Red Bull, perhaps to Ferrari who are holding fire on signing the option in Kimi Raikkonen’s contract at present.
Boss Christian Horner has already played down that prospect, insisting Ricciardo has a long term deal.
Even Ricciardo admitted to the Telegraph that he is committed to Red Bull for 2016, “I’ll be here next year and we’ll see how we go.”
At the same time, there are mixed messages coming from both Red Bull and Renault about their respective futures in F1, so Ricciardo admitted that “for my career, I need to be aware of what’s happening”.
He sounds wary of following in the footsteps of Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg, who looked destined for F1 greatness only for their careers to stagnate.
“I don’t want to be one of the champions who never was,” Ricciardo admitted. “If we’re to get these results again next year, and don’t move forward, then I won’t be happy.”
“It’s a tough one,” he added. “I’m confident in the guys, in the team, I know they’re winners. I’m confident they’ll make a change if it needs to be done, and turn it around, but until it happens and we get back on the podium it’s difficult to know.”