Shock positive of Ricciardo ‘battle’

Daniel Ricciardo’s 2019 season hasn’t led to any podiums, but the Aussie F1 star has admitted he has improved as a driver after being stuck in the middle of the field.

Currently ranked ninth after a season of disasters, capped off by disqualification at the Japanese Grand Prix following a Racing Point protest into Renault’s brake bias system, which was alleged to give its drivers an advantage.

Ricciardo had finished sixth at the race with the dramatic loss of point yet another setback.

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Although the dramas have pushed Ricciardo down the rankings, the 30-year-old Aussie has continued to be a positive force for Renault, praising improvements despite being locked in a midfield battle.

The team had been hoping to push further towards the top three teams after finishing as “the best of the rest” in 2018.

Ricciardo said he has learned a lot in 2019 from getting stuck in the middle of the field, needing to avoid drama a lot more than when he was fighting for the top of the podium with Red Bull.

While it may not sound like a benefit, the additional skills may help the Aussie if he can secure a seat in 2021, according to Crash.net.

Ricciardo — and most of the grid — could be anywhere in 2021.Source:Getty Images

The season is set to shake up the grid and there is currently set to be plenty of movement leading into the season.

Only Ricciardo’s new Renault teammate Esteban Ocon (until the end of 2021) and Racing Point’s Sergio Perez (until the end of 2022) are currently signed beyond the end of next season.

Ricciardo has been strongly linked with the Ferrari team throughout his career, including earlier this season.

And freshly-minted six-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton said at a news conference that he expects plenty of movement.

“In this next year we must see drivers switching, there is a lot going on, that is happening in the background, each driver talking to certain teams,” the 34-year-old British driver said.

But Ricciardo has admitted it’s helped him get as much as he can out of his car.

“It’s tight and at times frustrating because a tenth puts you three or four spots back,” he told Motorsport.com. “When you get that tenth, it puts you three or four spots forward.

“And it feels like a real battle. I think most of the time the person who’s best of the rest feels like they actually won something over the weekend. It’s been good, it’s been fun.”

Ricciardo finished fourth at the Italian Grand Prix, has finished sixth twice and seventh a further two times and has finished the “best of the rest” four times.

Daniel Ricciardo was best of the rest in the US.Source:AFP

But he also admits there are ups and downs to the dogfight.

“The only thing that I wouldn’t say sucks a little bit, but isn’t as fun, is that you’re more likely to get caught up in first lap incidents, being right in the middle,” he continued.

“That’s the only thing which is a little bit, I won’t say out of your control, but you’re put in that position a bit more often than I was in the last few years. But it’s also allowed me to work on my lap-one racecraft.

“I think my racecraft in general and my overtaking through the race isn’t bad, but my lap one stuff, now starting in the midfield, there have been times where I haven’t made the best decision into Turn 1, and after the fact I’m ‘I could have done that better’.

“So I’m learning, being in the midfield, and that’s cool. I don’t want to be here forever, but it’s a new skill I’m learning a bit which I didn’t have to do for the last few years.”

As for missing out on the podiums, Ricciardo said he was nonplussed, labelling it “a bit of.

“It’s really just about the outcome of the weekend. I’ll always leave a racetrack happy and fulfilled if I know I’ve got everything out of it,” Ricciardo said.

“Yes, I won’t lie, that is heightened by taking home a trophy or a bottle of champagne, but there’s also been podiums I got where I wasn’t actually completely satisfied with how I drove.

“So a podium isn’t everything, but for sure if you’ve done the best you can, and you do take something home, that’s better.

“The high will never be as high, and finishing fourth in Monza was a huge result, but I still wasn’t standing on the podium. So I’m not going out and running around the streets naked.

“But as far as my personal fulfilment that’s really meeting everything I need if I leave the race knowing I got everything out of it.”

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