Daniel Ricciardo will leave Renault a much stronger team than the one he joined, his boss Cyril Abiteboul said on Friday ahead of the Australian’s farewell at Formula One’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Ricciardo is moving to McLaren after two seasons at the French manufacturer, with double world champion Fernando Alonso making a comeback in his place at a team that will be renamed Alpine.
Asked to sum up Ricciardo’s contribution since he joined in 2019, Abiteboul said it had been considerable.
“What he’s given first and foremost as a driver, he’s been remarkable, in particular this year,” the Frenchman said in a video conference.
“I think there is no doubt about the progression of the team this year. It’s very much a credit to Daniel who’s been clearly leading the charge of the team and behind him a group of people and a group of mechanics and engineers who are doing a remarkable job.”
Renault are currently fifth, the same spot they occupied last year, and still in with a chance of third while their performances have been markedly better.
Ricciardo, a race winner with Red Bull, has twice been on the podium — something the team did not manage in 2019 — while team mate Esteban Ocon finished second in the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain last weekend.
“Daniel is a great ambassador, a team leader. He has clearly been instrumental to the changes that we’ve done last year when we had altogether a disappointing season,” said Abiteboul.
“He made an impact and we are so different today to what we were two years and a half ago when we decided to form this partnership. So, in that respect, frankly, it has delivered.
“The irony in all of this is that I believe we are a much stronger team now and he will have to race a much stronger team next year.”