In his first season with Renault, Ricciardo finished ninth in the F1 drivers’ standings with 54 points, beating teammate Hulkenberg, who was 14th with 37 to his name. While this is a respectable start to his new journey, but the Australian driver says he is not celebrating it.
Ricciardo felt this on the basis that he is better than ninth when ranked in skill level, which makes it frustrating to see himself there. “I don’t see myself as the ninth best driver on the grid,” he said to media including FormulaRapida.net.
“I don’t look into it too much, because I believe I’m better, you know what I mean. Do I want to be ninth for the next few years and have the excuse ‘ah but I’m better than ninth it’s just what it is?’ No. To answer your question, I don’t like seeing myself in ninth.”
In spite of this, Ricciardo added that – relative to his teammate – his season was nothing to be ashamed of, due to the fact that he is in a new environment in a new F1 car, but also because he bested his German teammate by 17 points.
“It’s all relative, like, if Nico had 100 points to my 54, then I’d be very disappointed, but if Nico had 5 points, I’d be like, ‘wow, amazing season’,” said Ricciardo. “So, I know I have more than Nico, I guess I can’t be disappointed.
“But I look at races and say ‘yeah I maybe could’ve scored more’. Relatively speaking, I’m OK with the season. I think it was always going to be difficult, coming into a new team – people have done it before so it’s not impossible to do.
“But coming from a higher level car to a lower and having to adapt more and I think more to the position of, I’ll say Charles, but it was the position of me as well, from Toro Rosso to Red Bull and him from Alfa to Ferrari, coming into a car with more grip is normally easier.
“OK, there’s a bit more expectation, but you get in and more things that you want it to do, so in a way that’s easier than where I went from Red Bull back to here. So I think how I adapted to that, I was quite happy. First few races I wasn’t happy, with myself.
“I expected more. But I think I developed well from there.” Elaborating more on Renault’s highs and lows, Ricciardo admitted that the team were left confused on weekends when they didn’t perform well as the gap was bigger than expectation.
”I expected lows, and I think in any team you expect some lows, and, if Mercedes is used to winning, then a fourth place is a low for them, so your always going to get lows through the season,” said Ricciardo. “The high was kind of in line, a top five or so.
“But the lows, at times, we were like, scratching our heads, and being like, ‘we shouldn’t be this far down’. We’re not going be a top-five-car, maybe every race, and to be running P14 or so, we thought we were done with this, so that was where there was a bit more head scratching, and the reality of like, ‘alright still we’ve got a lot of work to do’.
“As I touched on it a few times, the lows actually, have been the most fuel for the fire, and the hindsight of the lows have been very positive. Personally, I am wanting to get back to the front.
“Also, the way the team kinda turned the lows around, I thought, I was quite happy with them. I don’t feel they got into a slump of ‘oh we’re kidding ourselves, this is where we belong’, it was like, ‘No, no! Let’s get back to where we actually belong’.”
[This story was written by me for FormulaRapida, and edited by Darshan Chokhani]