Daniel Ricciardo has admitted he doesn’t feel awkward racing against his future team in McLaren, instead promising to give all he can for Renault in the final four rounds of the season.
The 2020 season has been a breakthrough for Ricciardo with the French outfit but after signing with McLaren at the beginning of the season, some have questioned if he pulled the trigger too soon.
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Ricciardo’s Renault team are currently third in the constructor standings, one point ahead of McLaren, but it’s largely down to the Aussie’s performances this season, with two podiums helping him to fourth on the driver’s championship behind Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas and former Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen.
Meanwhile, McLaren pair Lando Norris is in seventh, while Carlos Sainz, in the seat Ricciardo will fill next year, in eighth. Ricciardo’s current teammate Esteban Ocon is back in 12th.
But after two podiums in a vast improvement from last season where Ricciardo finished ninth overall in a horror first year with the French outfit, questions have been raised as to whether the 31-year-old made the right call.
The COVID-19 pandemic affected the decision as well with Ricciardo only able to do testing in his 2020 Renault and was unable to see if his current team had turned a corner in 2020 when he made his decision in May.
Ricciardo denied the awkwardness of plotting to take down his 2021 employer.Source:AFP
Speaking on Dax Shepard’s The Armchair Expert podcast, Ricciardo said he was focused on finding a team that could win after the new regulations come into effect in 2022. was his main driver, more than the biggest pay check.
“I want to win, so to be in the position to win is still number one,” Ricciardo said. “I guess you also get to the point where you value yourself as well and know what you’re worth and what you bring to the table. So if Mercedes said ‘you can have the winning car but we’re not going to pay you’, part of me is ‘well this is what I want because I’m going to have the chance to win but they’re not paying me and I know I’m worth more than that’.
“I would take the win over the money.”
Ricciardo was reportedly handed a massive pay rise when he arrived with Renault, with a reported $A49 million deal over two years, but he’s set to take a cut down to $A17 million for the move to McLaren, along with bonuses for points finishes and $A1.6m for a win, as reported by French outlet Sportune.
But when Sheppard asked that if Racing Point are essentially running last years’ Mercedes “why don’t you go there?”
Ricciardo laughed, adding: “Mercedes at the moment is still the top and it’s going to be hard for them to get beat in the next year. Rules are changing in 2022. At Mercedes, the doors are shut, they’re keeping Bottas and Lewis.
“So when we did all these contracts before the season started, last year McLaren made the biggest step. They went from nowhere to getting a podium and doing quite well. You want to look at tomorrow but sometimes you’ve got to look at next week. And they’re building something really quite impressive I think. McLaren for me has the most promise moving forward.”
Ricciardo said he and McLaren “had a good level of understanding and respect” and he pulled the trigger.
He said Racing Point were also building something impressive but it was McLaren that “spoke my language”.
Ricciardo must hope Hamilton’s success is contagious.Source:AFP
It was a wide ranging conversation on the podcast with Ricciardo admitting that he believes currently F1 results come down to 70 per cent the quality of the car and 30 per cent the quality of the driver.
He added that despite all his records and results, six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton “is not going to win this weekend if he’s driving a Williams or something else”.
But speaking to Sky F1, Ricciardo said he would show Renault “intensity and loyalty” as he looks to finish out the season strongly before F1 legend Fernando Alonso takes his seat next year.
“I looked at the team, and I looked at myself, and I really made a promise to them that I‘ll do all I can before the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi (F1 2020s last race) and there’s no fun and games,” Ricciardo said.
“I think honestly, McLaren watching, and anyone who really cares and who is a real racer over there at McLaren, will appreciate and respect that. I‘ll show the right intensity and loyalty and everything I can with Renault until the end, and in my mind that has to be respected and understood.
“Next year, when the page turns, I‘m all in with McLaren – but until then I’m going to keep going at Renault.”
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