Mark Webber thinks fellow compatriot Daniel Ricciardo “carried” the Renault team throughout the 2020 season.
Ricciardo joined Renault ahead of the 2019 season after deciding to leave Red Bull and, while a difficult first season followed, his second and final campaign with the Enstone team gave the Aussie plenty more to smile about (like he was not smiling enough already!).
The Aussie managed to bag two podium finishes on his way to nailing down P5 in the Drivers’ Championship with 119 points, which was a notable improvement on his 2019 result of 54 points and P9 in the standings with four more races on the calendar.
Now, as Ricciardo departs Renault for a new challenge with McLaren in 2021, Webber has been thoroughly impressed with Ricciardo and says that Formula 1 needs drivers like him battling towards the sharp end of the field.
“I think he drove awesome this year,” Webber told SpeedCafe.
“I’ve actually personally spent more time with Daniel than ever this year and it’s been quite good to see [how] he’s enjoyed this year.
“[It is] not [because of] less pressure, but just because he really felt valued at the team and he’s going to feel that again, I think, at McLaren next year. That’s sort of the step away from where he was at Red Bull.
“I think he did what he advertised he was going to do at Renault and that’s what he is.
“He’s an infectious character, he lifted Enstone, they really did a good job, he carried the team effectively this year, made very little errors, and he’ll take that to McLaren.
“So, I think Daniel’s stock is still tremendous, we know that, and he’s good for the sport.”
Danny Riccc and John Thiccc putting the miles in https://t.co/gRLtq9STvF
— Daniel Ricciardo (@danielricciardo) December 23, 2020
In true Ricciardo style, he recently named himself ‘Driver of the Year’ following his 2020 exploits.
“I don’t think it’s that obvious,” Ricciardo said when asked by the ‘In the Fast Lane’ podcast to make his pick.
“Because I think a lot of people stepped up this year.
“I mean the Mr Consistent at the top, of course, is your Lewis Hamilton. So he’s going to be there, whether it’s first, second, he’s going to be there.
“Then you go down to Red Bull and Max is always there. So he’s in contention.
“The way Charles got that Ferrari doing things this year, but then again I feel like probably Charles made more mistakes, so I wouldn’t put him there.
“Yeah, probably myself! After all that. It’s hard not picking yourself, but it’s also hard picking yourself because you sound like a bit of a douche.
“Put it this way, I would put myself, Max and Lewis in the top three. But I’d sneak myself a nose in front.”