Daniel Ricciardo is often regarded as one of the most talented Formula 1 drivers on the current grid. Unfortunately though, his time at Red Bull has been hampered by Mercedes’ dominance in addition to his own car’s unreliability. When the news broke of his surprise move to Renault in Enstone, everyone was unsure about if he had taken the right decision at this stage of his career. This blog post will provide an Aussie’s opinion on this move and whether the choice by Daniel Ricciardo will turn out to be good, or bad.
Formula 1 Career
After impressing driving the Torro Rosso, Ricciardo earned himself a seat in the parent team following the retirement of fellow Australian Mark Webber. In his first year in a Red Bull, Ricciardo convincingly beat his four-time champion team-mate Sebastian Vettel over the course of the season. Consequently making the latter move teams to Ferrari. Over the next two seasons, he increased his value by proving to be one of the only challengers to the dominance of Mercedes. With the subsequent emergence of Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo has had to take a back-seat in the team which heavily favours the Dutchman. Ricciardo comfortably beat his new team-mate in the first full season they were paired together, but in 2018, continuous mechanical failures made him lose the inner-team battle. Wherefore creating conspiracies that something more sinister was afoot in the Red Bull garage.
As his contract with the Energy Drink’s team was due to expire at the conclusion of the 2018 season, there were many rumours in the paddock of his next move. Most Australian fans had their fingers crossed that he would move to either heavyweights of Ferrari or Mercedes, which would provide him with a real chance at winning a championship. Which would be the first for an Australian since Alan Jones in 1980 The wish seemed like it was about to become a reality when earlier in the season, articles appeared claiming Daniel Ricciardo had a verbal agreement with Ferrari and would be set to race with them for 2019. But! The silly season kicked-off and the paddock line-up for next season was flipped on its head when Ricciardo announced he would be joining Renault for the next two seasons in a deal worth over $60m AUD.
Outcomes of Renault Move
Renault is one of three factory teams on the grid for next season. Having the backing of a manufacturer in Formula 1 is one of the best situations to be in. The team have been quoted as saying that the signing of Ricciardo to his $60m contract shows the intention and further increased investment that the French carmaker wants to bring to the team. After the penultimate race of the season, Renault sits at 4th in the constructors’ championship but still 278 points off Red Bull in third. The team will have to overcome this huge margin in pace through increased development over the offseason to provide Daniel Ricciardo with any chance of finishing on the podium. As a result, Renault themselves have told their new driver that he shouldn’t expect anything competitive with the ‘big 3’ teams until 2020. It is anyone’s guess if this will come to fruition. Although with Ricciardo being the undisputed No.1 driver in the team, it will certainly be a more comfortable seat without the distractions of Red Bull and their intentions with Max Verstappen.
What We Think
Many people are divided on whether this move will turn out to be a disaster or a masterstroke. We have seen two very similar scenarios with contrasting outcomes in recent times. Firstly the disaster; Alonso was a two-time world champion and had earned himself a dream move to the Prancing Horse. Before this was confirmed, there were rumours of him joining the ambitious Red Bull team but ultimately turned them down. This would prove to be a disaster move for Alonso as he had a frustrating four years with Ferrari before making an even more ill-fated move to McLaren. In this time, Alonso would see Red Bull dominate the championship and then Mercedes do the same in the hybrid era. While all in the latter period was happening, Alonso would be stuck complaining in a car that more often finish on the back of a flat-bed truck, than on the track.
On the other hand, you could compare Ricciardo’s move to that of Hamilton’s to Mercedes. Already a champion, Hamilton moved to Mercedes following the retirement of Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher in 2012. The German team played their cards right and with the new V6-Hybrid changes for 2014, the team were dominant from the start. There is no doubting Hamilton’s ability, but his job got a whole lot easier driving a car that was so much better than the rest of the field. As a result of this masterstroke move, Hamilton has pocketed himself another four championships over the last five seasons. In our opinion, we don’t expect Renault to be a challenger in 2019, but it will give a good indication if any positive progress is being made. If Red Bull’s development with Honda goes South, I’m sure Daniel Ricciardo would love to beat his old team. As Australians ourselves here at Part Hunter, we hope that his move can turn out like Hamilton’s and become our next Australian Formula 1 Champion!
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