Ricciardo says 2020 ‘most fun’ he’s had in F1 for years
It’s been a pretty rough year for everyone, but Daniel Ricciardo seems to be the exception to the rule after revealing that the 2020 season has been the most fun he’s had in the sport in ages.
The Australian has finished in the points in the last eight races, and been on the podium twice at the Nurburgring and Imola. It’s put him into sixth place in the drivers championship, just four points behind the driver in fourth.
That makes it potentially his best season since 2016 when he was at Red Bull and Max Verstappen was the raw young rookie taking over from Daniil Kvyat mid-season.
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The situation at Red Bull soured in subsequent seasons, and Ricciardo’s first season at Renault after his move in 2019 proved a frustrating one.
Asked whether he felt this had been his most rewarding season since 2016, Ricciardo replied: “I probably have to look back on it when it’s all said and done. But I think so far, yes.
“2016 was a really good year I remember with Red Bull, so this is probably the best, or the most satisfying, since then,” he continued. “I think the last year at Red Bull was emotionally the most tough.
“There were a lot of emotions that year ,” he recalled. “To this day I think that was the most tough year for me emotionally, and how it played with me a little bit.
“The start of the year it looked like maybe I was bidding for a world championship, and then mid-year I realised that I wanted to move on, and then towards the end of the year it was DNF after DNF.”
Even Renault’s underachievement in 2019 had been an improvement as far as Ricciardo was concerned.
“Last year it was still fun,” he said. “Even though we didn’t really get the results we were after, it was still fun to try and build with a new team.
“This year it’s definitely been more fun, because that building has delivered some really good results.
“It’s what you make it I guess,” he said. “I don’t think any year is easy, but it’s also what you make of it – how much you put on yourself.
“My enjoyment is really high at the moment. I’m loving racing, and I think that was also heightened from the kind of lockdown and missing the competition for longer off-season.
“Having it taken away [by the coronavirus pandemic] I think made my desire to come back obviously a lot stronger,” he suggested. “And yes, it’s been cool.”
Ironically, Renault’s struggles last season meant that before the 2020 campaign began Ricciardo had already decided to sign a deal to move to McLaren next year.
That had the potential to sour relations between Ricciardo and Renault, and especially team principal Cyril Abiteboul. But the driver’s success once the season finally got underway seems to have healed any divisions.
Even so, Ricciardo has said previously that he has no regrets about leaving Renault for McLaen at the end of the season.
“No I don’t regret it,” he told the media last month. “But I’m also not unhappy with the progress. I want to be racing at the front. If it means we’ve got Renault as a competitor next year to push McLaren further then I think it’s good for everyone.
“It’s been really good to work with [the team at Enstone]. For sure [it is] bittersweet, especially for some guys in this team to know I can’t continue after this year, but I’m going to give it a red hot crack until the last day.”
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