Daniel Ricciardo delivering Renault their first podium since their F1 return in 2016 at the Eifel Grand Prix means that Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul will be forced to honour a bet to get his first ever tattoo. But the Frenchman said that getting inked would be a small price to pay for the contribution Ricciardo has made to the team since joining in 2019.
Ricciardo endured an at times frustrating maiden season with Renault, scoring just eight times in 21 races, and finishing ninth in the drivers’ standings. But with the Renault package having improved in 2020, Ricciardo has been one of the season’s star performers, and was on a run of four top-six finishes before finally taking his podium at the Eifel Grand Prix, claiming third for Renault behind Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
And speaking after the race, Abiteboul credited Ricciardo for a significant part of Renault’s current upward trajectory.
“The team would not be what it is today without Daniel,” he said. “Even, and maybe thanks to, the year we had together last year, which was indeed a very painful year, which has pushed all of us, probably starting with myself, to take the measures that we’ve taken… now we are finding ourselves in a much better position for this year and for next year, and Daniel is capable of doing this type of thing [taking a podium], so I think it’s a statement.”
Despite that upward trajectory, Ricciardo won’t be part of Renault next year as he prepares to switch over to the McLaren team – a decision he made before racing began this season, and which led to a brusque communique from the team at the time regarding the Australian’s choice. And Abiteboul also chose his post-race media session at the Nurburgring to address his reaction to Ricciardo’s departure announcement back then.
“I know that our communication was a bit negative when we found out that he would not stay with the team at the time,” said Abiteboul. “But I think it’s precisely because it was an honest, emotional, unfiltered communication at the time – [just as] Daniel is also being unfiltered and genuine in what he’s doing today for the team.”