An optimistic Daniel Ricciardo has claimed a frightening Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps was his best race of the 2019 Formula 1 season.
The Australian shied away from high watermark results such as the Italian or Canadian Grands Prix in favour of the Belgian event where he was classified a lap down in 14th.
That came after qualifying sixth, starting 10th (owing to an engine penalty), and becoming embroiled in an opening corner stoush that damaged his Renault.
“I won’t say the obvious ones, because the results say at Monza, Canada,” Ricciardo said when asked about his best race of 2019.
“Everyone will look at me like ‘Spa, what happened? You were nowhere’.
“But it was a race where, probably the circumstances of that day as well (the day following Anthoine Hubert’s fatal Formula 2 crash) and I got hit in Turn 1 and we had a lot of floor damage.
“To be honest, the car was quite scary to drive after that. We had a lot less downforce.
“I was probably flat through Eau Rouge less than half a dozen times the whole race, so that gives you probably an idea of how scary it was through there.
“I drove with some level of attention and some form of inspiration that day,” he added.
“I was very happy with how I drove and I ended up being whatever, 14th, but on a personal level, that was one of my best drives I felt ever.”
Although he ended the 2019 season ninth in the drivers’ championship, and Renault fell one spot to fifth in the constructors’, Ricciardo is optimistic of improved results next season.
He’s adamant it’s not just lip service either, suggesting the team has identified areas where the car can be improved.
“Speaking with the aero guys, the philosophy of how we designed the car, and especially the front of the car this year – they are pretty confident that that was not the best way to go,” Ricciardo explained.
“Looking at some other teams, to develop the car, we can change that and get a lot more out of it as the year goes on.
“With the updates we didn’t really get that much, so we have a bit in hand.
“We certainly have the resources and the budget to do so. So I’m optimistic.”