Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, Yas Marina, 2019

“At times I was like, OK, this isn’t going to be as easy as I thought”

2019 F1 season review

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Daniel Ricciardo said he felt “okay” about his performance and results last season. But it’s clear the ex-Red Bull driver had hoped for more from his switch to Renault.

While the team reached its potential at some races, Ricciardo admitted they also spent too much time mired in the midfield.

“The high was kind of in-line – a top five, whatever, I knew was there,” he said. “But the lows, at times, we were like scratching our heads like ‘we shouldn’t be this far down’.

“We’re not going to be a top-five car maybe every race. But to be running 14th or something, we thought we were done with this. That was where there was a bit of head-scratching and the reality is we’ve still got a lot of work to.”

But he also believes stepping back into a less competitive car is a bigger challenge than moving up into a quicker one.

“Coming into a car with more grip is normally easier,” said Ricciardo. “Okay, there’s a bit more expectation, but you get in and it does more things that you want it to do. So in a way that’s easier than going from Red Bull back to here.

“I think how I adapted to that, I was quite happy. The first few races I wasn’t happy with myself, I expected more, but I think I developed well.”

Qualifying: Lap time

The lower the lines, the better the driver performed

Ricciardo comfortably asserted himself over Nico Hulkenberg as the team’s top qualifier. Towards the end of the season, Ricciardo was regularly able to get very close to his potential in qualifying. However the car’s pace over a single flying lap proved a weakness, particularly in the second half of the year.

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Race: Start versus finish

Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, Spa-Francorchamps, 2019
With a damaged floor, Ricciardo salvaged 14th at Spa
Compounding the team’s variable performance, Ricciardo was hit by some technical problems – as was Hulkenberg. In Bahrain both were classified despite their cars stopping with power units problems late in the race.

Ricciardo also found life in the midfield more of a bruising experience and picked up damage in several races. However he feels one of those, at Spa was his best drive of the year.

“I got hit in turn one, we had a lot of floor damage and to be honest the car was quite scary to drive after that. We had a lot less downforce, so I was probably flat through Eau Rouge less than half a dozen times the whole race. So that gives you probably an idea of how scary it was through that.

“But I felt like I drove with some level of attention and some form of, I guess, inspiration that day. I was very happy with how I drove and I ended up being 14th or wherever we finished. On a personal level, that was one of my best drives I felt, ever.”

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Race: Share of points

Race: Results versus other drivers

Ricciardo’s eventual championship position of ninth was his worst since 2013, when he was at Toro Rosso. But he says he “never actually got to the point where I was like, ‘what have I done’?”

Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2019
Ricciardo asserted himself at Renault
“I think at the start of the year, after Bahrain, I was a bit down,” Ricciardo admitted. “Albeit it was only the second race of the year. But I was more down on kind of my performance in terms of It’s not that easy to come in and bring this car up.

“So I think the reality of me kind of reaching my potential in a car that was difficult, at times I was like, OK, this isn’t going to be as easy as I thought. But then a couple of weeks later, Shanghai, That was a good weekend. That was the ‘best of the rest’ kind of weekend. So it quickly turned around.”

He also felt the pressure from his new team mate. “After Bahrain, I didn’t get to a point where I regretted it or was questioning it, but [it was] more on myself like: Can I do this?

“And with Nico alongside me as well he’s experienced, he’s been in the midfield pack for a long time and I could already quite see that. I was like, ‘I can’t let him build too much confidence early because it’s just going to get harder for me’. So I was aware I had to figure it out quickly.”

Which is exactly what he did. At the end of the year Renault dispensed with Hulkenberg’s services, leaving Ricciardo as the established star alongside newcomer Esteban Ocon for the 2020 F1 season.

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Race: Reasons for non-classifications


Quotes: Dieter Rencken

2019 F1 season

Browse all 2019 F1 season articles

Author information

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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15 comments on ““At times I was like, OK, this isn’t going to be as easy as I thought””

  1. Ricciardo placed a bet. A well informed bet, a well paid bet, but still a bet.

    By his years at RedBull Renault, and all the engine complaints by Horner…add sharp Abiteboul’s responses to that, and he had a good idea where he was going.

    But that’s the nature of a bet: you’re trying to beat the odds. He saw in 2019 that the odds are heavily against him, so all he can do is play his hand again and wait for lady luck’s help.

    But anyway, it is hard to believe that he will sign another contract so lucrative as this last one. Maybe if he pulls a lot of rabbits out of the hat, as in that 2018 Monaco win with no MGU-K over no other than Ferrari.

  2. In a previous era it may have been called doing a Fittipaldi after success at McLaren he left for the backwater that was his brothers F1 team with predictable results. I guess now its called doing an Alonso and its been equally catastrophic. Total waste of a top class driver

  3. What’s going on with that “Number of finishes ahead of every other driver” chart? I can’t think of an interpretation where the numbers make sense.

    Hamilton “Times beaten rival” = 1?
    Russell AND Kubica both “Times beaten rival” = 14?

    Makes no sense…

    1. Glad it’s not just me. The graph is inscrutable.

    2. Actually, I think I understand it now: that graph is how many times Ricciardo finished ahead of all other drivers on the grid. For fiinishes in blue, the other driver was classified. For finishes in green, the other tire was not classified (retired).

      But yeah, the information isn’t easy to decipher.

      1. Oh, it’s a chart about matchups with Ricciardo! Somehow the fact that the article was about Ricciardo and the fact that he didn’t have an entry in the chart didn’t give it away. I thought it was a summary of all the drivers’ performance for the season.

        Two confusing bits of language contributed:

        “Ahead of every other driver” implies drivers being behind at the same time. A more appropriate description of the bars is “Number of finishes ahead of each other driver”.

        “Rival” to me evokes “teammate”. “Competitor” would probably be more appropriate.

        So now the meaning makes sense, why is Albon so far down the list?

    3. The problem with that chart is that half the names are not showing. It would be better to use the standard 3 letter abbreviation so every name can fit.

  4. Going to be a huge year for Dan this year.

    There’s a fair chance that the Renault will be as bad, and unreliable as last years, so he’s going to have to drive the wheels off it to have any chance of picking up a drive in a more competitive team.

    That being said, if, and it’s a huge if, Renault actually manages to brig a competitive car, I’d expect him to ride it out with them until at least the end of 2021.

  5. If Mercedes continue after Hamilton and Verstappen and Russell go there, I guess Red Bull will still be an option as they don’t exactly have the same quality driver in their stable.

    And who knows, tables might just turn then, and with some crazy luck he might still be champion..

  6. Some drivers learn what it takes to win. Many don’t. Unfortunately, The Hulk being one of the latter.
    DR is a winner by nature and my expectation is that he will succeed again. Just what that measure of success is, we have to wait and see. Gonna be fun to watch.
    Will Renault be the team to pull the rabbit out, one can hope.
    As Vince Lombardi noted ….
    “Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all time thing.
    You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time.
    Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.”

  7. At least renault doesn’t favor his teammate

  8. If Renault can get the chassis/aero right I would expect Ricciardo to shake things up a bit. Hopefully with the changes to technical team Renault will deliver this time. Also Abiteboul and his management team are dealing with a hostile CEO so the F1 team are under lot of pressure to deliver.

  9. I can see Renault getting rid of Ricciardo purely to free up budget to develop the car and team. Though by getting rid of Hulkenburg (who was no way worth £10 million a year) would have freed up cash. I’m curious what Ocon’s salary is.

    1. I guess the question is whether Ricciardo is:
      1) Effective at developing a car.
      2) Able to drive an underperforming car to better results than it should otherwise achieve.
      If he can do that, then he’s worth more than his salary, not least because he should improve Renault’s position in the constructors’ championship and therefore increase their share of the prize money.

      1. In a world market where Toyota spends over 4billion/yr on vanilla advertising, Ricciardo is probably cash positive for Renault already.

Comments are closed.