Daniel Ricciardo is one of the top drivers on the grid. While his qualifying pace is commendable, it is his race craft backed by his late-breaking overtakes that sets him apart from the grid. To get the benefit of this value, Renault snatched him for big bucks from Red Bull in 2018.
However, what they did not know was that they were getting a lot more than they expected. The Aussie has an infectious personality which spread through the whole organization.
The people at the French manufacturer highly appreciate that, apart from his multiple podiums this season. The chassis technical director Pat Fry was particularly complimentary of his outgoing driver.
“When you actually look at the way he motivates a team and that side of it, which often gets forgotten, he is great. Even when you’ve had a session, that’s not as good as you would have hoped or whatever, he’s still big enough to see the benefits of what we’ve learned in that and that we will do ‘better tomorrow’ type of thing.”
It is hard to see drivers being so cheerful, they are generally more prickly and demanding with their team. It’s not very often that they put an arm around the shoulders of the engineers and commend them for their job.
“That is actually a good way of pulling the crew and the team together really. So I think [he’s] pretty outstanding and pretty exceptional really,” said Fry.
A couple of years after moving to Renault, he is on the move once again. He is set to join their rivals, McLaren, from 2021. However, this presents a fresh challenge for him as it not only a new team but also a new power unit. He’s never driven a car with a Mercedes engine.
“It sounds simple, but you need to learn how to drive the power unit these days. Even the same power unit, in a different car, it’s completely different in how we set things up. So there’s a lot of learning that he needs to get on and do there,” said the Renault director.
It is clear that they are moving on from him with a heavy heart. Given that they will be working with Fernando Alonso now, it’ll be interesting to see how that dynamic turns out to be.