Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo says he has had no second thoughts about his move to McLaren in 2021, despite the Enstone outfit having made significant progress this season.
Agreeing terms with McLaren ahead of the 2020 season, it was widely considered an upgrade for Ricciardo given they had finished 54 points ahead of Renault in the 2019 constructor’s standings, and were seemingly much closer to a return to title contention.
However through the first 10 races of the year both teams have been impressive, with only seven points separating McLaren in third from Renault in fifth, with the latter having shown particular improvement in the past few races.
Nevertheless, Ricciardo stands by his decision.
“Obviously no disrespect to Renault, and where I currently am, but no I don’t regret it,” he told reporters in Sochi. “Am I happy to see us progress? Absolutely.
“If it means that we’ve got Renault as a competitor next year to push McLaren further, then I think that’s good for everyone. So no, I’m not regretting it.
“But I’m also not unhappy with the progress. I want to be racing at the front, and obviously every race in F1 is so important. So, every chance I get to do it, you know, the sooner the better.
“I am glad we’re making progress and I feel a part of it, which is important as well for me, and I guess my growth as a driver.”
And while the season has experienced major disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ricciardo feels the extra time between preseason testing in Barcelona in February, and the first race of the year in Austria in July, only helped Renault to progress.
“In winter testing the car was a bit better, but I still don’t think that we left Barcelona in the winter with a whole chunk of confidence,” he explained.
“The updates that we brought to what was then the first race in Austria they made a proper step.
“So in the winter this was a bit unexpected, but once we got racing this was the level we expected to see.
“Even last year what we kind of expected to happen 12 months later, but we had flashes of it last year but did not show it consistently enough to really believe it was going to get to the level that we expected.
“On all ranges of circuits now, which is the most encouraging thing for the team. And personally for me to be quick around here [Sochi], because I don’t think I ever really have been.”
As to how team and driver will work with 2021 just around the corner, Ricciardo says that things remain the same.
“The team have not shut me out with anything. I have been doing simulator and all of it, so it is been really good to work with them.
“And I know for sure bittersweet especially for some guys in the team to know that I cannot continue on after this year. But I’m going to give it a red-hot crack until the last day.”