Daniel Ricciardo will leave Renault a much stronger team than the one he joined, his boss Cyril Abiteboul said ahead of the Australian’s farewell at Formula One’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Ricciardo is moving to McLaren after two seasons at the French manufacturer, with double world champion Fernando Alonso making a comeback in his place at a team that will be renamed Alpine.
Asked to sum up Ricciardo’s contribution since he joined in 2019, Renault’s managing director Abiteboul said it had been remarkable.
“What he’s given first and foremost as a driver, he’s been remarkable, in particular this year,” the Frenchman said in a video conference.
“I think there is no doubt about the progression of the team this year. It’s very much a credit to Daniel, who’s been clearly leading the charge of the team and behind him a group of people and a group of mechanics and engineers who are doing a remarkable job.”
Renault are currently fifth, the same spot they occupied last year, and still in with a chance of third while their performances have been markedly better.
Ricciardo, a race winner with Red Bull, has twice been on the podium — something the team did not manage in 2019 — and lies fifth overall in the drivers’ standings.
His teammate Esteban Ocon also finished second in the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain last weekend.
“Daniel is a great ambassador, a team leader. He has clearly been instrumental to the changes that we’ve done last year when we had altogether a disappointing season,” said Abiteboul.
“He made an impact and we are so different today to what we were two years and a half ago when we decided to form this partnership. So, in that respect, frankly, it has delivered.
“The irony in all of this is that I believe we are a much stronger team now and he will have to race a much stronger team next year.”