Daniel Ricciardo is expecting Renault to risk a different car philosophy in 2020 in order to try and close some of the gap to the front-runners.
Renault finished fourth in the constructors’ championship last season and targeted a consolidation of that position alongside further gains toward the top three teams this season. However, an inconsistent year has left the team 34 points adrift of McLaren in the battle for fourth place and Ricciardo admits the team needs to be targeting a major step forward next season and therefore not simply settling for an evolution of the current car.
“It certainly needs something big enough,” Ricciardo told RACER. “At times we’ve had a good car but it’s not the level where it could be and I think with the resources we have, it can be better. If we kind of just make some improvements on this year’s car it’s probably not going to be enough, so I’ll probably say you’ll expect a different car next year, a different philosophy.
“Maybe that’s riskier, but if we don’t risk anything maybe we improve a little bit on this year but ultimately that’s not where the team wants to be. So I guess there’s going to be a bit of change.”
Ricciardo says he has seen changes in his own skillset during his first season at Renault after moving from Red Bull, as he learns how to develop a different type of car to suit him.
“I’ve had some good moments over the years but I definitely feel I’ve learned a bit this year. Having a new teammate so learning some things with Nico (Hulkenberg), just being with new engineers, driving a more tricky car…
“Especially at the start of the year I was struggling a bit with braking, actually. It was such a strength at Red Bull and the first few races that was actually a bit tough to understand because if I tried to pass I’d lock a brake or I was lacking the confidence there and I thought, ‘Jeez, was the Red Bull just making it easy for me and making me look good?’ And then I said, ‘No, no, no, I refuse to believe that, I just need to understand how to get this better,’ and so I worked quite hard with the engineers and the vehicle dynamics part of the team to get it better and to give me more understanding and feeling.
“So I think I have improved some driving things to work around that, but I think I’ve also just put more hours in this year a) to try and integrate myself into the team but b) to try and get this car — a bit of a fresh motivation. So I feel like I’ve learned, yes, but I feel like I am driving very well. I’d like to say better — I think I’m doing well. The qualifying to Nico has been positive. I’ve got to keep it up, but I’ve been happy.”