Daniel Ricciardo endured a rocky 2018.
Daniel Ricciardo endured a rocky 2018.

Ricciardo dishes on unprecedented failures

DANIEL Ricciardo has opened up on a crushing 2018 season that saw him struggle more than ever before.

The Aussie F1 star finished sixth in the drivers' standings, well behind Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas in fifth, after his campaign was crippled by regular mechanical woes and engine troubles with Red Bull's Renault power unit.

Ricciardo retired eight times in 2018 and revealed it was the toughest year mentally he's ever endured in the sport.

"I don't want to overplay it like, 'Man, I've been struggling,'" Ricciardo told motorsport.com. "In the scheme of things I've been handling it well and I wouldn't say that my everyday life has suffered from it.

"But for sure, the racing and the emotions I've felt over the course of a race weekend have been more than I've ever experienced before.

"With the mental side, it's just been about trying to overcome these hurdles and the constant failures and trying to pick myself back up.

"I haven't had to do that so repetitively in a season before."

Those "constant failures" played a part in Ricciardo deciding to leave Red Bull and team up with Renault in 2019. Midway through the year he made the call to jump ship and sign with the French outfit on a two-year deal, saying he needed a fresh challenge.

This season was anything but smooth sailing.
This season was anything but smooth sailing.

Renault has admitted it won't be in a position to push for a world title in the immediate future but Ricciardo was impressed by the long-term vision of the team when it was courting his signature.

The 29-year-old agonised over the decision to leave Red Bull. He said the uncertainty that engulfed him while he was trying to make the biggest decision of his life took plenty of juice out of him and left him feeling drained.

Once he'd made the call to quit Red Bull there was less pressure, but the on-track disappointments still remained. In the 10 grands prix following his bombshell announcement Ricciardo retired four more times to with his four DNFs before the summer break.

"It was more that time around the decision and the contract talks and all that," Ricciardo said.

"That took some energy out of me, just going back and forth and trying to figure out what was best for me in terms of my future.

"That took a bit of a toll and I lost some sleep over the course of that period, but once I'd made the decision, I feel like it took some weight off my shoulders and my mind has been clearer."

The dream team has split up.
The dream team has split up.

Ricciardo will pair up with Nico Hulkenberg at Renault next year as he waves goodbye to former stablemate Max Verstappen. Although the two Red Bull stars had their disagreements, Ricciardo said his relationship with the Dutchman was probably better than most people realised - and better than he expected it to be.

"I'd say the relationship with Max and myself went better than, I'll be honest, I thought it would go," Ricciardo said on a Red Bull podcast.

"Just our personalities and our self-belief. I really believe he thinks he's the best in the world and I believe I am.

"So, that can obviously clash. But we always managed at least 99 per cent of the time to keep that in its own little place.

"It was cool, it was a good, hard fight with him and I enjoyed it."

Ricciardo praised Verstappen's raw speed and predicted big things for his future, but said he'll need to have the right car to match his talent if he's to challenge for a world championship.

"There's a lot of potential, for sure some potential greatness for Max," Ricciardo said. "I think it's all about the trajectory. He was quick from day one but I'm convinced he's a lot quicker than his first win for Red Bull.

"So, I'm sure he'll keep improving, but it's probably going to be more of a scenario or situation if he's going to be in a car that's capable.

"That's probably going to dictate what levels of greatness he's going to achieve."

News Corp Australia

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