Alpine technical chief Pat Fry says Daniel Ricciardo’s ability to motivate a team often goes unnoticed, calling him “outstanding”.
A graduate of the Red Bull driver program, Ricciardo left the Austrian outfit at the end of 2018 to make a shock switch to Renault. At the time the French manufacturer were searching for a path out of the midfield pack.
2019 though was a step backwards for the team who slipped from P4 to P5 in the Constructors’ Championship. Renault would finish there again in 2020, but more than doubled their points tally ahead of welcoming in their new era as Alpine.
And through those lows Ricciardo’s ability to motivate truly shone through.
“I think Daniel’s outstanding,” Fry is quoted by Motorsport.com.
“He’s clearly very quick and very sensible. But I think also, when you actually look at the way he motivates a team and that side of it, which often gets forgotten, he is great.
“Even when you’ve had a session that’s not as good as you would have hoped or whatever, he’s still big enough to see the benefits of what we’ve learned in that and that we will do ‘better tomorrow’ type of thing.
“That is actually a good way of pulling the crew and the team together really. So I think [he’s] pretty outstanding and pretty exceptional really.”
Sadly for Alpine, Ricciardo made the decision to move on to McLaren for 2021 fairly early in 2020 before Renault’s true progress became clear.
But Alpine certainly are not feeling short-changed, as in Ricciardo’s place they have gained the services of two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso who took both titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006.
Alonso walked away from Formula 1 at the end of 2018 after an unsuccessful stint with McLaren, so the Spaniard is already hard at work in the simulator after a two-year hiatus.
“He’s been obviously in the simulator, and a lot of these things are about trying to get familiar with some even simple things,” Fry explained.
“It sounds simple, but you need to learn how to drive the power unit these days. Even the same power unit, in a different car, it’s completely different in how we set things up.
“So there’s a lot of learning that he needs to get on and do there. He’s certainly been listening in on the debriefs and stuff like that through the various race weekends, so it has all been a case of him getting embedded in the team really.
“When you look to the start of the year, with only three days of testing and then straight off to [the first race] you’ve got to do everything you can to try and embed the drivers in the team, not just in terms of how to drive the car, but also to understand the people and get used to how we work.”