Renault’s podium drought could be over in the near future if their performance at Mugello was any indication, says Daniel Ricciardo.
Running in the podium positions towards the end of the race, Ricciardo had to ultimately settle for fourth behind the Red Bull of Alexander Albon, but suggests that his car’s pace at a track that doesn’t play to its strengths is a very encouraging sign.
“We might be a little bit sad that we got so close to a podium, but when we step back and look at the performance, it was a track that we did not really expect to be particularly competitive on,” he explained. “It is a higher-downforce one, it is one that we have not been particularly strong on. Barcelona and those style circuits are not our strengths.
“It is still so close in that pack but on Sundays our race pace is solid. If we qualify towards the front end, it puts us in a good place.”
A team that hasn’t had a podium since Romain Grosjean finished third at the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix (then known as Lotus, the team was not owned by Renault but raced out of the same Enstone factory), Ricciardo says that its rapid improvement has him as disappointed as missing out on the podium as it does happy to be contending for them in the first place.
“I am somewhere in the middle — I am bouncing from happy and fulfilled to a little bit sad. The truth is, it is a bit like Monza [where he finished fourth]. We put ourselves in the best position, we did all we could. At the very end we did not have that last bit to hold onto a podium. We were there.
“Without the red flag from [Lance] Stroll, I feel like we had good control on the medium [tyres], so maybe that was a better chance for us to hold onto third. But we are getting close, and to see happiness in the team and also some disappointment with a fourth place, that is a good place to be. Everyone is hungry.”