Daniel Ricciardo says he is ready for the threat that Esteban Ocon will pose as his Renault teammate but doesn’t expect to have an explosive relationship with the Frenchman.
Ocon has impressed in his Formula 1 career to date but had a tricky relationship with his then-Force India teammate Sergio Perez as the pair often clashed on track. He was also involved in a controversial collision with Max Verstappen in Brazil towards the end of 2018, but Ricciardo says other incidents have no bearing on his relationship with Ocon.
“I’m definitely coming into it with a fresh approach and I don’t want to lay any rules down from day one, because I think already that will create a tension in itself like, ‘Oh so you’re anticipating something,’” Ricciardo said. “Like his relationship with Perez, obviously they they came to blows a few times and it’s a little bit like when I joined Red Bull — Mark (Webber) and (Sebastian) Vettel came to blows a few times, so a lot of people were like, ‘Are you going to have blows with Vettel?’ But the way I saw it was, ‘Mark and Vettel have their own relationship; that’s not my relationship so I need to establish something with him.’
“It’s a bit like Perez and Ocon and me and Ocon. Maybe he had his things in the past, even with Max, but I need to create something for myself with him. So I’m not going to come in with any kind of ideas or hesitations. I’m prepared for competition, but I’m not prepared for fun and games. If down the track fun and games appear, then I’ll deal with it at the time but I think I’m certainly coming in with an open mind and positivity, as opposed to, ‘Oh s**t, when’s he gonna blow up?’ I’m not thinking like that.
“I need to build something with him and I have every intention of building something positive. For sure on Sundays we’re going to race it out and maybe we’ll bang wheels at some point, but our best intention to try to get this team in a good place before they start losing energy focused on managing us. They they need to manage a better race car.”
For his part, Ocon says he doesn’t want to repeat the situation he had at Force India, believing his relationship with Ricciardo is already in a better place to avoid too many difficulties.
“What happened at Force India is not something I want again,” Ocon said. “It was not a nice atmosphere. We had respect, me and Checo, and it didn’t slow down the team or anything but the atmosphere between us was not so good. On track we came close too many times, that was clear, and that was not good. It’s not something I want to do again.
“Definitely the atmosphere is a lot better between me and Daniel than it was with Checo, so if we can keep working like that, even though it’s going to be different on track, it’s going to be a lot better for everyone to have a positive energy and a great working environment. Hopefully we’re going to be solid on that topic and be able to push the team forward.
“But no, we don’t want to have that happening. Of course it can always happen at the start or something, but in a race like it happened it was not acceptable.”