Daniel Ricciardo says he is hugely motivated by the challenge of turning Renault’s current momentum into a fight with McLaren for fourth place in the constructors’ championship.
McLaren had looked comfortable in fourth after an impressive first part of the season, opening up a significant gap over the summer break. However, a return of just one point from the two races in Belgium and Italy – both of which including the retirement of a car that was running in the points – coupled with a fourth and fifth for Renault at Monza has allowed the French manufacturer to close the gap to 18 points.
“We deserved the double top-five finish in Italy,” Ricciardo said. “We clearly had the pace from the moment we hit the track on Friday, and from there, executed a really good weekend to come away with 22 points. It was nice to have my best result for the team.
“We know now there will be eyes on us to repeat that, but I can see no reason why we can’t string together more solid results and really chase down fourth place. The challenge excites me.”
Ricciardo says it’s important to keep the pressure on McLaren by following up the result in Italy with another good showing this weekend in Singapore.
“The circuit is long and busy,” he said. “You have to get close to the exit walls, and sometimes you’re there holding your breath a bit. I have always enjoyed racing at street circuits. It’s a feeling of being absolutely on it, close to the edge and it’s an awesome feeling.
“Singapore was the first real night race in Formula 1, and there’s something I like about waking up later and then going to bed in the early hours. I’ve enjoyed some success there with some podiums in recent times. We need to back up the excellent result in Italy and put the heat on the race for fourth.”
Team-mate Nico Hulkenberg agrees with Ricciardo’s ambition, saying Renault has put itself back in the fight as a result of its strong return in Monza.
“The team left Italy on a real high,” Hulkenberg said. “The whole weekend was a super effort from everyone, starting with a solid qualifying result and then a strong race to move up a position. We’ve made a big swing in the constructors’ championship and the race for fourth is on. We have to develop this now and aim to pick up these kinds of results more regularly. It’s certainly possible and we won’t be letting up.”