Big smiling Daniel Ricciardo took heart from the performance of his Renault in Formula 1 testing on Tuesday, even if the Australian’s time in the car was cut short by the rear wing flying off.
The former Red Bull driver, who moved to Renault at the end of last season, said he felt “quite encouraged” with the laps he did before the failure.
“The way the car used the tyres I thought was pretty encouraging. I didn´t feel like it fell off a cliff and we´re killing it,” he said.
Asked how the rear wing had felt, he replied: “While it was on it was OK.”
Ricciardo said it was still way too early to say where Renault, fourth overall last year, stood from a competitive standpoint but he said they were leaving no stone unturned.
“I feel there’s a lot of attention to detail and it’s promising from an ambitious point of view. I feel they are ticking all the boxes from an analysis and ‘trying to get better’ point of view.”
The Australian, who until this season has spent his Formula One career backed by Red Bull, also managed to avoid the pitfall of stopping at the wrong garage.
“Today the Red Bull guys were waiting for (Pierre) Gasly when I was coming in the pits. They were all out there and I was like ‘I’m not going to fall for it’. I actually waved as I drove past,” he laughed.
The Red Bull mechanics waved back, he added.
Ricciardo won two races last year for Red Bull, who have now switched from Renault to Honda engines. He said that had been one of the key factors in his decision to leave.
“I had wins and it wasn’t always bad, but I thought maybe now if the next phase with Honda doesn’t work, it’s just going to be potentially more risky for my happiness within the team and everyone’s motivation,” he explained.
“From that point of view I think there’s less risk coming into this (to Renault) because I feel there’s more room for us to grow.”
“The five years there (at Red Bull), coming close but never really close enough, I just felt a year or two with the same outcome…that was the balancing point where it was time for a change because that was potentially the risk.”
Ricciardo, who was team mate to 21-year-old Max Verstappen at Red Bull, said there was also a benefit from moving to Renault alongside 31-year-old Nico Hulkenberg.
“I’m honestly just happy to be the younger driver in the team again. It’s been a while. I’ve been the old guy for the last few years,” said the 29-year-old.