Insisting that battling in the midfield has improved his racecraft, especially in terms of establishing himself on the opening lap now that he is down in the pack, Daniel Ricciardo admits that while 2019 has been pretty much what he expected, he is aiming to take a significant step forward next year.
“I knew it would take time to get the team to where we wanted to go,” the Australian told reporters in Interlagos.” We’re still not there, but I think the second half of this season, we’ve had a bit more consistency. That’s been more positive.
“I think now we have some momentum,” he continued, when asked about his hopes for the two remaining races, “”it’s important to bring that momentum through the winter for the factory, for the team who’s going to then put the effort in to get the car on track next year.
“For everyone to finish the season with their chins up and a spring in their steps and be happy to work through the winter, with a positive mind-set that the following season’s going to be better.
“I’ll start to expect more, not only from myself but also from the team come 2020, but I think we’ve learned a lot. I know I have.
“The results haven’t always been what we wanted, but I definitely don’t see it being a year to forget, or anything like that. Far from it.”
Asked his target in 2020, there was no hesitation. “Champagne,” he grinned.
“Really, when I signed with the team, 2020 was the target, to finish on the podium at least once. So that’s really the target,” he added.
“McLaren‘s proof that you can really make a big difference in one season, so I think with a strong off-season, it’s not impossible for us to have a chance to fight for that next year.
“But ultimately, whether it’s Champagne or not, we want to get closer to the top three and actually be in the fight with those three teams more consistently next year.”