Renault admit they can’t deliver the results alone in 2020 to keep Daniel Ricciardo with the team and he must buy in to their future vision.
Ricciardo left Red Bull at the end of 2018 to make the surprise switch to Renault, finishing P9 in the Drivers’ Championship in 2019 – a position which certainly didn’t impress the seven-time race winner.
The Aussie has admitted that he would likely leave Renault when his deal expires at the end of this year if he didn’t see positive signs for the future, and the team admit that they can’t give him a race-winning car for 2020.
Instead they are targeting P4 in the Constructors’ Championship, but are ploughing resources into nailing the new regulations for 2021 – and it’s this vision which Renault need Ricciardo to buy in to if they are to keep him beyond this year.
Speaking at their season launch in Paris, as quoted by Motorsport.com Renault’s F1 non-executive director Alain Prost said: “For sure this year, we have to say the truth.
“We don’t have a high expectation about this year, so it’s a shame for Daniel, the second year with not a lot that is going to be better.
“I think it’s going to be more his perception of what we could do for 2021, and also being realistic about the offers he is going to have from other teams.
“He will decide by himself but we will talk very soon. We don’t have everything in our hands, that’s for sure.”
Ricciardo made it clear though that he wanted to make this Renault deal work and had not yet plotted out scenarios away from the team.
“I don’t have anything written down with Renault beyond this year but whatever may or may not come in the next few months, or over the course of the year, I’m 100% committed to still making this work with Renault,” he confirmed.
“I haven’t thought about scenarios yet of being somewhere else. I do feel like last year was a bit of an unknown, but I do feel this year there is much more in place to get this thing on the right track, and to kind of tick some of the boxes that I thought we would tick when I signed the contract.
“I do believe there is a shoey in here somewhere in a yellow car. I do believe that, so yeah I’m certainly all in, to make those things come to fruition, you know.
“For me personally as well I do want it to work. I do want this year to be successful. So regardless of what was to happen you know, I could hold my chin high and be like you know, we really gave this an awesome crack. And ideally, the crack continues.”
Renault’s managing director Cyril Abiteboul believes it’s important to show Ricciardo early in the year that Renault can hit their targets, because the longer they go without doing so, the less likely he is to re-sign.
“I think the main difficulty will be timing, I guess, for obvious reasons,” he said.
“You want to have a quick decision regarding his future, but I think what we also need is a little bit of time to see how we are developing as a team and how we are working together and what we are capable of delivering. Because let’s be honest, together we failed to deliver the expected results last year.
“So hopefully we can we can do better. But the first thing I think he will want is to see if we are capable of providing him a better car, because frankly if you’re not capable of doing that this year, why would we next year? And I completely understand that.
“So, the first way to check is, you know, in the next few weeks to see if the car is indeed better, and if the priorities that we had set for our self over the winter, have been addressed successfully.”
This year Ricciardo will be partnered by Esteban Ocon who replaces Nico Hulkenberg, forming another strong driver line-up for Renault, but Abiteboul knows sooner rather than later his team need to live up to their future visions.
“I think we’ve been able to do that [have good drivers] because of the expectation of the drivers for Renault to become a strong team,” he explained.
“But at some point it will stop. At some point we need more than people just expecting that we become a good team. We also have to become a good team to retain the sort of line-ups that we currently have.”