Daniel Ricciardo does not feel marginalized by Renault despite the excitement around Fernando Alonso’s return to the team this week.
Alonso made his first visit to the Enstone factory at the start of the week as he prepares to return to Formula 1 in 2021, replacing Ricciardo who is moving to McLaren. Despite some pointed comments from managing director Cyril Abiteboul (pictured at right, above, with Ricciardo) when the move was first announced, Ricciardo says the relationship with Renault remains good and he’s enjoying seeing the positivity Alonso’s return is bringing to the team.
“When I announced (his McLAren move) there were some emotions, as expected,” Ricciardo said when asked by RACER about the atmosphere at Renault. “The biggest thing for me was to reiterate my intention to fulfill everything for the remainder of this year and to give it all I had.
“At the time you say these things, whether it is over the phone or in person eventually, but your actions have to do the talking. It is all well and good saying I’m going to do my best this year and put in everything I can. But if I’m finishing at the back of the pack it does not seem like I am I’m living up to it.
“I feel like certainly once we got racing and the results that we are turning in, I think they can tell now that I’m trying to be true to my word and live up to that. We are getting on with it.”
He pointed to the banter following his winning a bet with Abiteboul, in which his boss promised to get a tattoo if Ricciardo scored Renault’s first podium since its return to the sport in 2016, as evidence of the positive spirit within the team.
“I’ve never seen anybody so excited at the potential of getting a tattoo, a grown man mind you, so I would say the atmosphere has been very good,” Ricciardo said. “Fernando coming in and going on the simulator the last few days, that is exciting for the team. I certainly do not feel like I am in any way shape or form left on the side.
“I’m still working a lot with the team to develop the car for this year, and obviously Fernando’s return is exciting for not only Renault but F1. So it is all been pretty good. I think I will just keep getting the results and that keeps everyone happy.”
Ricciardo has scored two top-four finishes in the last three races and Alonso says he has been encouraged by the recent form Renault is showing.
“I think the team is in good shape for the future,” Alonso said. “The last few races were encouraging for everyone, for myself too. To see Renault back in a competitive manner is a good thing for the sport and I’ve been delighted to see the improvements. We’ve still got a long way to go and the midfield is very tight but I think the guys have done an amazing job trackside.
“The last couple of races were very exciting to watch and I am looking forward to being back in the mix. I’ll now follow what the team needs from my side — some sim days, helping some weekends and being available for the team for anything they need.”