Daniel Ricciardo says dropping into Formula 1’s midfield pack has helped him hone his racecraft in 2019, especially during the chaos of opening laps.
Ricciardo might have hoped that a move to Renault from Red Bull would not drop him into the bunfight behind F1’s top three teams, as the French squad looked to pull away from the midfield.
However, the Australian’s starting spots in races have varied from dead last in Hungary to fourth in Canada and Ricciardo believes the varied challenges have added to his skillset.
“It’s tight and at times frustrating, because a tenth puts you three or four spots back. When you get that tenth, it puts you three or four spots forward,” he said of the slim margins in qualifying this year.
“And it feels like a real battle. I think most of the time the person who’s best of the rest feels like they actually won something over the weekend. It’s been good, it’s been fun.
“The only thing that, I wouldn’t say sucks a little bit, but isn’t as fun, is that you’re more likely to get caught up in first-lap incidents, being right in the middle.
“That’s the only thing which is a little bit, I won’t say out of your control, but you’re put in that position a bit more often than I was in the last few years. But it’s also allowed me to work on my lap-one racecraft.
“I think my racecraft in general and my overtaking through the race isn’t bad, but my lap-one stuff, now starting in the midfield, there have been times where I haven’t made the best decision into Turn 1, and after the fact I’m ‘I could have done that better’.
“So I’m learning, being in the midfield, and that’s cool. I don’t want to be here forever, but it’s a new skill I’m learning a bit which I didn’t have to do for the last few years.”