Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

Ricciardo: No awkwardness at Renault despite decision to leave

2020 F1 season

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Daniel Ricciardo says he expects to get “back to business” as normal at Renault despite his decision to leave the team at the end of the year.

He joined Renault at the beginning of last year in a surprise move from Red Bull. But after just one season with the team, and before contesting his first race weekend in their new car, Ricciardo took the opportunity to sign a McLaren contract for 2021.

Ricciardo likened the situation to his departure from Red Bull in 2018. “Maybe the first time I see some people in the team there might be that moment of… I don’t know if the word’s ‘awkwardness’, but I went through it a couple of years ago,” he said.

“Actually I think because time has passed since the news now, I’ve spoke if not seen already some members of the team, and I think it’s really back to business. We’re all excited to get racing again as we know in a week and hopefully we get a bundle of races and hopefully we can get a chance to finish this out strong.

“So from my side it’s certainly put behind me and that’s not in my train of thought at the moment and it won’t be until next year. We’ll just get on with it.

“I’ve spent a couple days in the sim as well so I’ve seen a few people around the factory and no black eyes or punches in the stomach. So I think we’re all moving on and I’ll give it all for the rest of the year.”

Ricciardo’s team mate Esteban Ocon said he isn’t giving any consideration to taking over as team leader next year.

“I’m not thinking about that at all,” he said. “At the moment it’s already fantastic to be restarting the season.

“We know what are the targets. We know what we have to achieve on track. And I know what my job is. My job is to improve the car, give good feedback, give good info and new information for us to be improving.

“I’m very happy that the team has no number one and no number two, we are all on the same step and that’s how I want to approach the season.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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19 comments on “Ricciardo: No awkwardness at Renault despite decision to leave”

  1. Unpopular Opinion: Ricciardo is better than Verstappen. Now and in his Red Bull days…

    1. @datguylucas Unpopular indeed, but I agree with you.

      1. Disagree.

    2. GtisBetter (@)
      28th June 2020, 17:15

      How would you describe “better” in this opinion? Faster? More reliable? More points?

      1. The only time DR appeared ‘better’ than Max was when Max was handing him points and positions through his own exuberance of youth. Once Max got past that phase he continued to qualify higher, finish higher, spend twice the laps ahead, but then he outpointed DR as well, as I say once he wasn’t handing DR positions and points.

    3. Ricciardo “”better”” in what sense? Daniel jumped ship from RB to Renault for a huge salary. But Renault’s investment came to nothing because Mr Ricciardo jumped ship again (mind you for the same salary) and this time to McLaren. If his winning wishes are not fulfilled with this outfit within a year he will probably try to replace Sainz at Ferrari.
      So Daniel Ric. is good at smiling and grinning and most importantly in Jumping. But is he reliable???

      1. Yes well,Dan is allowed to jump ship at the end of the season due to the fact that he was out of contract anyway.
        Just saying

  2. I can’t see there not being any awkwardness. DR basically took on a huge paycheck and therefore a big part of Renault’s budget and committed himself, full of promises, to being part of their revival. Just over a year later, when the sniff of something “better” came along, he immediately jumped ship. I can’t see his mechanics and engineers being particularly stoked about that. I for one lost a lot of respect for him for that, and I have far less invested in it than the Renault workforce.

    1. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
      28th June 2020, 19:47

      committed himself, full of promises, to being part of their revival.

      But what happens when the other side doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain?

      2019 car was a nonstarter. 2020 car is looking like a middle mid-field car based on preseason testing. Perhaps they are focused on 2021 (now 2022). But what gives RIC any confidence that Renault are suddenly going to “turn on” the ability to make a car progress up the field? You would at least expect them to make some progress and not a backwards slide from 2018.

      1. @braketurnaccelerate Agreed. And even with the unfortunate time with Honda my money would be on Mac over Renault any time. That also includes awareness of their recent financial issues which I believe they’ll roll with and come out fine. DR said it was a very hard decision too ie. he didn’t do it flippantly nor because of any strife at Renault. It’s just business…he’ll fulfill his contract as a professional and the team knows that through and through. No need for awkwardness let alone for any feeling or action, detrimental in nature, to even be considered imho.

        I would think most of his thinking would be around who would adapt better to the wholly new regs, and there must just be that some little thing that Mac said or is doing…their philosophy on the new cars, perhaps their resources or what work they have already done (as much as they could tell DR anyway) to convince him. Can’t hurt that they’ll have Mercedes pu’s. Can’t hurt to drive ‘for’ Mercedes.

        1. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
          28th June 2020, 22:16

          @robbie – You bring up a good point about the Merc/Macca deal. Even though it might not be the absolute fastest engine anymore, it’s still the class of the field, so that likely had some input in RIC’s decision.

          Also, while I do think McLaren is in a bit of financial trouble due to their lackluster road car division, with the Bahrani Gov’t owning 55-60% of McLaren, I seriously doubt they’d allow McLaren to fail. Plus the coming cost cap will help reel in McLaren Group’s overall expenses.

    2. @dot_com firstly, it is worth noting that Renault only offered Ricciardo a two year contract at the outset – i.e. for 2019 and 2020 – so Renault would have known there was the risk that Ricciardo might not renew his contract when negotiations began in 2020.

      Secondly, didn’t Dieter’s figures for what he reckoned drivers salaries are suggest that the claims of what Ricciardo is supposed to have been earning were overstated?

      In Ricciardo’s first year at Renault in 2019, Dieter put his salary at $15 million – so, whilst it is likely to be more than his base pay at Red Bull, it doesn’t seem to be anything like as stratospheric as the salary figures that have been thrown about (for context, Hulkenberg’s salary at Renault was $10 million in 2019).

      As for 2020, originally it was supposedly going to be $20 million, but Ricciardo then agreed to take a pay cut to protect the workers at Renault – meanwhile, his deal with McLaren is likely to see a further reduction in his salary, so it is costing Ricciardo in that respect to move to McLaren.

      As others have noted, on the flip side, Ricciardo might feel that what Abiteboul is offering him is not what he was promised at the outset.

      Renault’s results in 2019 were short of their expectations – Abiteboul was targeting an improvement on their form in 2019, hoping to at least consolidate 4th in the WCC and to score more points, but their actual performance saw them fall behind McLaren, rather than pulling clear of the midfield pack and towards the top three.

      To make matters worse, Budkowski has stated that the changes to Renault’s management structure and technical teams means that 2020 is likely to be another transitional year, as that has disrupted the technical development of the RS20 (which was already looking like another midfield contender at best).

      That means from Ricciardo’s point of view, Renault have underperformed in 2019 and are now likely to underperform in 2020, which was originally meant to be the year that they wanted to close the gap to the top three. Furthermore, the current agreement to adapt the 2020 cars for 2021 means that Renault are probably going to remain off the pace in 2021 as well, meaning Renault are effectively staking everything on those 2022 regulation changes.

      From Ricciardo’s point of view, you’ve already had one season below expectations and another that is also likely to fall short of Renault’s original plans. Renewing your contract means you’ll probably have another poor year in 2021 in the hope you might strike lucky with Renault in 2022 – or you could accept the offer from the team that has just beaten Renault in 2019 and potentially still has an edge in 2020, and where said team is also switching to the Mercedes power unit in 2021, which is still thought to have a slight edge over Renault in most situations.

      1. Fair points. I do agree that there are two sides to this – and we don’t know the whole story. I’m sure Ricciardo feels let down, especially having jumped from a race-winning car to one that struggles in the midfield. If I were McLaren though, it would still have made me nervous about bringing in someone who may jump ship again if something better comes along, or if things don’t go immediately to plan. Ricciardo made of point of stating that he understands where Renault are/were, and was in it for the long haul. He wanted to help build the team up. I know personally that if I’m looking at hiring an employee, but I feel or see from their history that they quit and jump ship when a better offer comes along, I would think twice about hiring that person.

        1. Reaching – not that many great or near-great drivers didn’t jump ship to a better prospect immediately it became apparent and Maclaren look far from nervous over their end of the deal.
          While we’re here, IMHO I’m pretty sure that Ferrari didn’t take Ricciardo this time is solely because he doesn’t fit their marketing – he’s definitely an upper middle bogan. This might also apply at Mercedes.

  3. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    28th June 2020, 19:43

    Still quite surprised he’s jumping ship from a manufacturer backed team after only a year – one that at least according to Renault isn’t going anywhere. Especially to McLaren, who seem to be suffering job losses and financial instability, let alone having to compromise for an engine change. I’d imagine he knows more than I do to make his choice but I can’t really understand it myself.

    1. Fair comment and he did say when the news first broke that this decision to leave Renault was harder than his decision to leave RBR, so…yeah he must have really wrestled with it.

    2. @rocketpanda in fairness, Renault have left F1 a few times, McLaren haven’t.

      1. @slowmo Yep maybe he and Ocon know more about whats going on than they are allowed to let on. Renault’s declaration of staying in the sport is a bit vague, they could still sell the F1 team and remain as an engine suppler…still in F1. If a driver was to pick a non factory team leaving out RB who would be the next best choice.

  4. Ricciardo had a clause in his Renault contract that he is free to live if he gets an offer from Mercedes or Ferrari. His departure wasn’t totally unexpected. Renault entered into this contract fully aware of the possibility that Ricciardo might just walk away and still considered worth talking the risk. He is an excellent driver and he will finish his contract professionally regardless of who will be his next year employer. Knowing what they know now, Renault would probably make the same deal (albeit maybe for less money).

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