‘Ludicrous’: Rough days ahead for Ricciardo
DANIEL Ricciardo's move to Renault will not see the Aussie claiming a championship any time soon.
That is, unfortunately, the reality for the outgoing Red Bull gun, who has enjoyed a steady rise through Formula 1 with the Austrian-based team.
But a transition from navy to yellow may see the 29-year-old, nicknamed the honey badger of the grid, in an even tougher struggle for success in 2019.
Newly appointed Renault technical chief Marcin Budkowski says the mechanical power required to close in on Ferrari's or Mercedes' tail is far out of reach for the middle-tier team. He said Renault were around 1.5 seconds slower than the big dogs at the top of the pack, which is a lifetime on the track.
"Obviously I hope it will be different, but we have to take things step by step," Budkowski said via motorsport.com.
"We are 1.5 seconds off the top guys, and if I was sat here thinking we are going to recover that against people like Mercedes and Ferrari, these massive organisations, with super competent people ...
"We have grown over the last two years, but they have had structures with 900 people for many years. Stability has been a benefit to them, so it would be ludicrous for me to say we are going to beat them next year.
"Our objective is to continue progressing strongly, and to be honest, reducing that gap is a real achievement. I certainly hope we can fight much closer to them in 2020. But I am not going to make any predictions because it would be unreasonable."
RICCIARDO: MY WEIRDEST SEASON OF F1
Ricciardo reflected on his chaotic start to the 2018 season, which saw him claim victory in two of the first six races amid technical failures and DNF's.
"It's been the weirdest season I've had in racing," he said via Red Bull Racing's website.
"After Monaco, I was thinking that the season looked very promising, and that we might even be in with an outside chance of fighting for the title. I still feel I'm driving well and applying myself properly but for all sorts of reasons it hasn't really worked out since then.
"My confidence has never dipped - but my motivation and love for the sport has been a bit up and down - though I tend to bounce back from that pretty quickly."
Ricciardo said the reality of leaving the Bulls after 10 years would only sink in once the season wraps up in Abu Dhabi late in the year.
"It feels mostly real - but honestly, I think when the chequered flag drops in Abu Dhabi, and I take off the Red Bull overalls for the last time, that's when it's going to hit me," he continued. "It's not so much the 'moving to Renault' part, as it is the 'closing the book on this part of my career' bit. From an emotional point of view, that's when it's going to hit me."