Ricciardo’s Red Bull reality check

Daniel Ricciardo has hardly enjoyed a dream debut season with Renault but that doesn’t mean he’s pining for Red Bull.

Ricciardo quit the energy drink team last year because he needed a change and was sick of feeling like his career had stalled. His window of winning a world championship was getting smaller by the season and a move to Renault was supposed to reinvigorate his competitive juices.

Challenging the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari was never an option this year as Renault instead set its sights on being the “best of the rest” outside the big three (Red Bull included) but 2019 hasn’t gone to plan for the French outfit. It’s sixth in the constructors’ championship behind McLaren and Toro Rosso and Ricciardo is languishing in 11th in the drivers’ standings.

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The Aussie F1 star failed to finish four races before the summer break and is yet to appear on the podium in the yellow and black, with his best result being sixth at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Ricciardo’s former teammate Max Verstappen has enjoyed a much happier time, winning two races and scoring five podium finishes, but the Honey Badger doesn’t believe Red Bull has improved much.

You might think it would make Ricciardo jealous seeing Verstappen sip champagne as he rides up the front of the pack (he and Red Bull are third in the drivers’ and constructors’ championships) but the West Australian issued his former team a reality check, saying it’s no closer to winning a world title than it was last year when he made the decision to leave.

Ricciardo isn’t missing Red Bull at all.Source:Getty Images

“It’s a podium car capable of winning a few races and that’s what they’re doing again this year,” Ricciardo told The Independent of Red Bull.

“For sure the car is looking pretty good and it’s definitely got better since the start of the season, but in saying that I still think it’s the car I had the last few years. I don’t think I’m missing out, so to speak.

“I probably would’ve had some podiums and some champagne (by staying at Red Bull), but it’s still not enough to have given me a world championship and really that’s what I’m trying to get.

“I don’t feel like I’m missing out, I think Red Bull are coming on and they are doing really well now but to beat Mercedes in the current state is really tricky and I think Max will win another race or another two, but it’s tough to see him win a title.”

On current form, Renault is even further away from challenging for a championship than Red Bull but Ricciardo believes his new home has the resources to keep trending upwards and move its way up the grid in years to come.


Pierre Gasly’s stay with Red Bull was short-lived.Source:Getty Images

Blessed with one of the most talented driver pairings on the grid when Ricciardo was there, Red Bull is feeling the 30-year-old’s absence, dropping his replacement Pierre Gasly to junior outfit Toro Rosso after an underwhelming first half of the season.

Gasly is sixth in the drivers’ standings, yet to finish on the podium and has been completely overshadowed by Verstappen. He’s failed to impress his new bosses, who have demoted him for the rest of the season and elevated 23-year-old rookie Alexander Albon to be Verstappen’s new sidekick.

While Ricciardo feels for Gasly, he says the team acted appropriately given the Frenchman didn’t meet the team’s high standards.

"To be honest, I don't think it's unfair," Ricciardo told Motorsport.com. "I think they had to do something. Nothing against Pierre, I have no issue, I like Pierre as a person and I'm not happy to see him going back to Toro Rosso.

"But I think the reality is Red Bull did give him six months and I don't think there was that much sign of progression or momentum. And obviously with Max winning and showing the car is capable of at least being on the podium, Red Bull did expect to see that for now.

"It's also what as a Red Bull driver, I've experienced it, you know in the program they're expecting this from you and if it doesn't happen, they'll move on.

"I don't want to say it's unexpected, and I'm sure Pierre had some suspicions that maybe something could change, but it's just the reality of their program. It's obviously a shame for him, but I think Red Bull had to do something. Now it's Albon with an opportunity, we'll see how that goes."

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