Daniel Ricciardo says Renault made a statement with its result in the Italian Grand Prix, where he finished fourth ahead of team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.
Renault has had a tough season so far, and prior to Monza, its best weekend haul had been 14 points for finishing sixth and seventh in Canada. Ricciardo has raced with Renault-powered cars since he joined Red Bull in 2014, and believes the improvements the French manufacturer has made to allow it to be so competitive on the high-speed circuit need to be recognized.
“Very, very happy with the weekend,” Ricciardo said. “A bit like Canada, we executed the qualifying result into a strong race result. Felt that this one was a bit overdue. We finally got maximum points if you know what I mean. That is really pleasing.
“I want to give an extra special shout out to Viry, to engine boys, because this sort of result here as a Renault team and power unit is quite a statement. Every year we come here and it feels like that there is a lack of optimism – at least in the last few years, [this track] was never a strength of ours.
“For them to turn it around this year, to make the gains and to put on this result here, is special. So this one is for them. They deserve a glass of champagne. Pleased. Hopefully we can learn something from these low-downforce circuits and take it into high-downforce one like Singapore.”
Ricciardo and Hulkenberg had locked out the third row in qualifying before converting in the race, and alongside the F1 team’s result, test driver Jack Aitken won the F2 sprint race a week on from the death of Renault Driver Academy member Anthoine Hubert in a crash at Spa.
“I won’t lie, I just got goosebumps when you said that (it was an almost perfect weekend),” Ricciardo said. “Everyone works hard, but I really feel we deserve this. It was time to get this result. Last weekend the other stuff was hard to take, and then going to the race as well, I felt that we had so much more to show, and it kind of got taken from us in Turn 1. So this was a long time coming.
“The French don’t hide their emotions, and you can tell when there is a bit going on. I am most pleased that everyone can drop their shoulders a little bit after this result and move forward with some better optimism. It was strong.
“Jack, as well, in F2, got the win. He was driving really well. A few of my tactics; breaking the tow down the straight – I don’t know if he got that from me, but I was proud to watch him do it. That win meant a lot to him. As a team goes, really, really pleased.”