Daniel Ricciardo says he saw Renault blossom from a “timid environment” when he first joined them into a team regularly targeting the F1 podium.
The Australian moved to Renault for the 2019 season after leaving Red Bull and following a disappointing first year, enjoyed tangible success in the second half of the 2020 campaign.
It was capped by Renault’s first three podium finishes as a manufacturer since 2011, the first two of which were provided by Ricciardo at Imola and the Nurburgring. The third came courtesy of Esteban Ocon at the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain.
Those results also meant Ricciardo could depart with his head held high, having confirmed before the delayed season had commenced that he would be driving for McLaren in 2021.
Although Renault ultimately missed out in a three-way battle for third place in the constructors’ World Championship, finishing fifth, Ricciardo believes they made real headway both on the track and also off it in terms of belief that they could produce the goods.
“I saw a lot more confidence in the team, just as far as personnel,” said Ricciardo, quoted by Motorsport.com, about the latter stages of his spell in contrast to the beginning.
“There was that feeling now that, ‘yeah, we can do it’, whereas I felt like I walked into a bit more of a timid environment early on.
“It’s not criticism. It’s just the team wasn’t used to it. They hadn’t been successful in quite a few years, so everyone can start to have some self-doubts.”
Renault ended up in 2020 with one more podium than third-placed McLaren, who nevertheless were more consistent throughout the whole year.
“If I’m to generalise it, I would say it’s been a success,” added Ricciardo about his two-year stay.
“I guess there’s levels of success. Real success would be winning a title in the two years, but definitely stepping on the podium a couple of times made it feel like a success.
“It’s not like we fluked some good results. I really believe we were there and we persisted.
There were so many fourth places, and we finally made it happen.
“But I think the turnaround as well, to see the step from 2019 to 2020, shows the work that was done in 2019, the building blocks, definitely came to fruition and we got a lot of use out of that learning from 2019.
“I’m obviously not claiming it all, but the feedback I was giving and trying to help out and everyone was trying to move forward.
“So I see it as a success from that point of view.”