Red Bull’s decision not to let Daniel Ricciardo test for Renault in Abu Dhabi last season shows rivals are worried about the French constructors’ potential, says Renault executive director Marcin Budkowski.
Ricciardo confirmed his move to Renault in early August, but while the likes of Charles Leclerc, Kimi Raikkonen and Pierre Gasly were able to test for their 2019 teams in Abu Dhabi, the Australian was blocked from doing so. Budkowski says that while Renault would have benefited from Ricciardo testing the 2018 car, he sees some positives in Red Bull’s attitude toward his move.
“There’s always things that you learn from interaction with a driver,” Budkowski is quoted as saying by Crash.net at the launch of the 2019 Renault Sport Academy. “He’s been in the simulator, he’s been working with the engineers. It’s difficult when he hasn’t driven the car and we would have loved him to have driven the car in Abu Dhabi but we couldn’t make that happen.
“We’re disappointed that we couldn’t get his feedback on last year’s car, because it would have been very useful to us.
“On the other hand the fact it didn’t happen, without pointing any fingers, is quite flattering to us because it means that any people are afraid of us and don’t want to give us anything that could be a competitive advantage.”
With seven races for Red Bull prior to his move, Budkowski says Ricciardo’s arrival adds an extra level of understanding of what is needed to be successful that Renault was previously missing.
“He’s a race winner and he’s bringing us an experience that we don’t have in the team today. He’s been working with a top team for a number of years so obviously he’s going to give us some understanding in terms of development of the car, setup of the car, which is useful learning for us.
“On top of that it’s been a huge motivation boost for the whole team to have someone like Daniel coming — obviously because he’s Daniel, the driver and the person he is, but also that a race-winner from a team that is challenging for wins and potentially championships believes in our projects and joins our organization at this stage.
“It says a lot about the project and what we are trying to build here and hopefully build together with Daniel.”