Daniel Ricciardo said he is desperate to return to the Formula 1® podium in 2020 and perform his first ‘shoey’ celebration as a Renault driver.
Renault only showed glimpses of their new R.S.20 Formula 1® car at their 2020 season launch and Ricciardo admitted he had not even seen the finished product yet.
But optimism remains high in the Renault camp as Ricciardo looks to improve on his ninth-placed finish in 2019, his first season with the team since crossing from Red Bull.
“I am craving to take my shoe off - for sure,” said the Australian, who regularly drinks champagne from his race boot in a popular podium celebration.
“It’s been a while, but I am optimistic … I feel like this year there’s a bit more stability within the structure so that, on top of what we learned last year, in my mind I’m like, ‘Okay, it has to be better’.”
Renault finished fourth in the 2018 Constructors’ Championship and the team hoped the arrival of Ricciardo would push them closer to the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.
But Renault dropped off in 2019 and finished 54 points below the fourth-placed McLaren, while they were only six points clear of Toro Rosso and 18 ahead of Racing Point.
“We have to move forward and we have the tools and the equipment,” Ricciardo said.
“I do believe we will get the fourth place back. Will it come easy? No. But I think if we do everything we say we’re going to do, then it’s going to happen. We’ll get there.”
Ricciardo said he was looking forward to seeing the finished 2020 car for the first time.
“I haven’t yet had that moment,” he said.
“Every year you have it, whether it’s your first year in Formula 1® or your 10th, when you see the car for the first time and you see your name on it – there’s certainly a nice little warm, fuzzy feeling but I haven’t got that yet.”
Ricciardo has a new teammate for this year, with former Force India (now Racing Point) driver Esteban Ocon replacing Nico Hulkenberg.
Ocon, who was a reserve driver for Mercedes in 2019, is excited to get behind the wheel.
“There are a lot of new items on this year’s car and the guys have been working hard to find some additional performance,” he said.
“It’s all about details in Formula 1® and I’ve seen quite a lot of details on the Renault R.S.20.
“It’s exciting to see the design but the next thing you want is to be behind the wheel and feeling what it’s like.”
Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul added that Ocon has brought “fresh energy” to the team and that he and Ricciardo are “exceptionally motivated”.
Pre-season testing starts in Barcelona next week but Abiteboul denied the team were behind schedule.
“If anything we are much more on schedule than we were last year,” he said.
“If you optimise your schedule, you don’t have a car waiting here for a couple of hours or days. The car is [being] built and going straight to Barcelona.
“On that basis, our only option is to have fake cars, show cars, altered to look like this year’s car.
“For me, that’s a waste of money and people will always interpret based on that. So rather than that – no car.
“For anyone interested in the car, look at the pictures next week.”
Renault have bolstered their team for 2020 with the acquisition of the well-regarded Pat Fry as the team’s new Technical Director (Chassis).
Dirk De Beer has also joined from Williams to be Renault’s new Head of Aerodynamics.
Ricciardo’s car will hit the track for its first competitive race at the Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2020, which runs from March 12-15.