Daniel Ricciardo will benefit from the arrival of new Renault teammate Esteban Ocon in 2020, Australian motorsport legend Mark Webber believes.
Ricciardo left Red Bull to join Renault for the 2019 campaign but could only finish ninth in a year that did not include one podium finish.
It was a far cry from the third-placed finishes in the world championship that Ricciardo recorded with Red Bull in both 2014 and 2016.
The West Australian will be supported by a new teammate this year, though, Ocon replacing Nico Hulkenberg for the Enstone-based team.
Ocon made his Formula 1® debut in 2016 and finished eighth in the 2017 driver standings with Force India.
The Frenchman was a reserve driver for Mercedes in 2019 and Webber feels that his arrival will push Ricciardo on in 2020.
“It’s going to be an exciting year for Daniel,” Webber told grandprix.com.au.
“Every year in Formula 1® is important but a young charger [is] in the other car now, with Esteban Ocon … Daniel will need that rocket.
“He really does like having a really tough teammate.
“I’m not saying Hulkenberg wasn’t tough, but I think that Ocon will be another change of gear and that’ll be something that Daniel will – I think he’ll lift for.”
The 23-year-old Ocon has competed just twice in Melbourne in his 50-race F1® career.
Key to achieving a good result in Melbourne for Ricciardo could be the way he handles the mountain of media commitments both before and during his home Grand Prix.
Interest in the popular Ricciardo will be sky-high in Melbourne but Webber offered a word of advice to his compatriot.
“We have a very important event and it’s big and, yeah, there’s only one Australian on the grid,” Webber said.
“So it can be a long week because it’s incredibly repetitive and it’s very, very draining for you to field the same questions for four days in the build-up, five days in the build-up.”
Webber added that he “always overcooked it myself” trying to support media requests, but that that came with consequences.
“It’s the first race. There’s a lot of energy with all the driving teams, they want to get going. But you don’t want to be flat by Friday and that’s something that can happen,” he said.
The Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2020 runs in Melbourne from March 12 to 15. Book online and save up to $10* on AusGP Park Pass tickets before prices increase at the gate.