Daniel Ricciardo talked to AS ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix about the Formula 1 season ahead, time with Renault and rivalry between the drivers.
Daniel Ricciardo delivers a warm smile as he responds to every question. The 29-year-old driver is well respected in the paddock and now looks forward to the 2019 Formula 1 season with French team Renault.
-Two years ago you won at Baku, last year you were involved in a crash with your teammate...what do you have up your sleeve this year at the Azerbaijan circuit?
-Everything ! I've seen the highs and lows here, this is a circuit that generates tension with fast speeds and walls and there is always the possibility of an accident. Here, a driver feels plenty of energy, emotion and plenty of adrenaline but it's important to be intelligent. If I'm fast, it's key to select the right time to attack and get a good result.
Stuck in an office? No problem. When you love racing, you find competition everywhere. And when @HulkHulkenberg and @danielricciardo get involved... Epic! The #RSspirit never stops. pic.twitter.com/byF8hk4Mf9— Renault F1 Team (@RenaultF1Team) 11 April 2019
-Now you're fighting in the mid-point of the grid, how is that?
-It's quite intense. I want to be at the front, of course, but the middle of the grid is really close. A perfect qualifying puts you at the front, but making one mistake can put you nearly at the back. There's less room for an error. In a way it's more difficult, but it's fun.
-Is it more fun being there?
-Yes, possibly, but certainly more challenging.
-How much do you miss standing on the podium?
-For sure I miss those, it's been almost a year since the last one. I need to be patient and I believe I can get it back, it will take just a little bit of time.
-Fourteen drivers want a winning car and you preferred to sacrifice yours…
-When I joined Red Bull, it was a winning car, but in the space of five years I only won seven races. It didn't happen. And I though with Honda there were some risks. It couldn't happen for some years, so I felt it was the right time to change and start to try and build something. Right now Renault it's not there, but I saw a lot of potential and Renault can be there. It was a short term sacrifice for a long term gain.
-Was the Red Bull atmosphere becoming too complicated?
-It was never bad. I think it was more from me, I was getting a little bit frustrated. But it wasn’t really with Max over the team as such. As I said, after five years trying, I was just getting a bit frustrated and I needed to move on, otherwise the chance of me just going to the same thing every day it was a risk to lose some motivation.
-Your crash from last year, could ever happen with Hulkenberg instead of Max?
-Hopefully not. I don't think so.
-You didn't seem to have any problem beating Vettel on your first year at Red Bull, but Leclerc...
-It's interesting they have the team orders so early in the season. They're always doing things a little different, I don't know how the team operates. But I would try to put it not so early, in Bahrain Charles proved he can be a top driver.
-What's the ideal situation for two top drivers inside in the same team?
-Let them race and may the best one win.
-Do you think Verstappen will win the championship some day?
-He has a very good opportunity because he's very fast, but also he's very young. If he wants, he could do F1 for another 15 years so you would thing for sure one year he should have his chance. But you never knows, just look at Fernando Alonso. We were all convinced he'd secure more titles after his 2006 success.
-Can you be world champion with Renault?
-Honestly, I think I can. This year will not be the yard stick but next year will be the year when we know. If we all take a step forward and start to get on the podium then I think we can do it. If we end up finishing in seventh and eight position, then It's still a long way to go.
-The right team at the right time might be the key of a F1 career.
-Timing is really important. It can change your career. In case of Fernando maybe it was timing or maybe not the best choices at the time. When Hamilton went to Mercedes people asked why was he leaving McLaren, and now you look at it and it was an amazing movement. I don't know if it's luck, or timing, or seeing what's going to happen. Hopefully my vision is going to be something awesome.
-Is it possible to be patient?
-It's possible, it's not easy. But unfortunately, it's possible.