Daniel Ricciardo happy to be leaving Renault on a high

Third-placed Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Renault Sport F1 celebrates on the podium after the F1 Eifel Grand Prix at Nuerburgring on October 11, 2020 in Nuerburg, Germany
Third-placed Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Renault Sport F1 celebrates on the podium after the F1 Eifel Grand Prix at Nuerburgring on October 11, 2020 in Nuerburg, Germany
Image: Joe Portlock / Getty Images

Daniel Ricciardo says he feels happier leaving a successful Renault than a struggling one after securing the French manufacturer's first Formula One podium since 2010.

The Australian, who is moving to McLaren at the end of the season, finished third in Sunday's Eifel Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring after Mercedes' early leader Valtteri Bottas retired with a power unit problem.

"Next year's another story, I am moving on, but I think this really does cap a pretty cool story that we've had and shared for these two years," he told Sky Sports.

"I'm obviously OK with it and very positive and excited for next year, but I would much rather end on a high," added the 31-year-old.

"People think it's easier to leave if we're struggling and, yeah OK you're moving onto something better, but I don't want to struggle, period. I want to have success in every race.

"So to leave here with success, and on a positive and with the team - a lot of excitement, happiness, it's cool. I'm OK with everything right now and just really happy we've had a successful season."

Renault's last podium in Formula One was with Poland's Robert Kubica in 2010, although the team then became Lotus and won in 2013 with Kimi Raikkonen in Australia. The French manufacturer returned as a constructor in 2016.

The team finished fifth last year, a drop from fourth in 2018, and are currently fifth in a tight battle for third, with Racing Point and McLaren six and two points ahead respectively.

Renault team boss Cyril Abiteboul said Ricciardo was more confident in the car now.

"The team has progressed, it's very visible since a few races," he said. "We understand the car better, the setup works better.

"There is something that clicked between Daniel and his car and his race engineer... I think the confidence level has just improved but simply because he has got a better car, he's capable of doing what really he wants."

Meanwhile, Formula One managing director Ross Brawn said he wanted departing Honda to help shape future engine rules that might encourage the Japanese manufacturer to return.

Honda announced this month that it will quit Formula One as an engine provider at the end of 2021 to focus on zero-emission technology.

The company, current supplier to Red Bull's two teams, left as a constructor in 2008 when it sold its team to then-boss Brawn who went on to win both the 2009 titles with Britain's Jenson Button and Mercedes engines.

The Brawn GP team then became the Mercedes factory team in 2010 and has dominated Formula One since the 1.6 litre V6 turbo hybrid era started in 2014.

"It is unfortunate Honda are leaving Formula One at the end of 2021," Brawn wrote in his regular column on the www.formula1.com website.

"I’m optimistic when their situation changes and when F1 evolves, we can engage them again as Honda have always been important and welcome members of the F1 community in the past and hopefully for the future.

"I hope a new power unit formula which will be introduced no later than 2026 will encourage them to come back again," added the Briton.

He said Formula One will also be encouraging Honda to be part of new working groups set up by the governing FIA that will recommend what sort of power unit the sport should adopt in future. 

- Reuters


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