Daniel Ricciardo’s new F1 livery has been revealed, with Renault unveiling the colour scheme of its RS19 car ahead of this season.
The Australian was in a bullish mood as the slick livery was uncovered, though the new car itself will not be seen in public until testing begins in Barcelona next week (February 18-21). Renault Sport president Jerome Stoll was also talking up the chances of F1’s resurgent powerhouse.
“We want to be real contenders,” he said at the livery launch, held at the team’s base in Enstone.
Ricciardo took an enormous gamble by switching teams from Red Bull to Renault this season, leaving behind an outfit with whom he won seven grands prix for one that is not yet seen as a true contender for victories.
The Australian intends to change that and offered a blunt perspective on his move: that he felt he was at risk of being let down again had he stayed at Red Bull, and Renault offered greater upside.
“The more I think about it, I don’t see it too much of a gamble,” Ricciardo said.
“We’re not coming in saying, ‘We’re going to win’, so the expectation and the bar is initially not very high. Whereas at Red Bull, every year we built ourselves up, because they’d won in the past and felt it’s going to happen.
“The risk is being let down every year and if I stayed, there the risk was it doesn’t work again and with Honda maybe that doesn’t happen. So the risk of failure is greater than coming here and having the risk of not winning.
“Out of the two options, they both have some risk but with risk comes reward and I feel that because the growth here is potentially a lot bigger, I feel the reward can certainly be bigger here.
“It’s certainly not a mid-field attitude, it’s like, ‘Let’s attack those top teams’.
“I want to repay the faith the team have shown me. There is a lot of hunger in the team.”
Ricciardo entered his new contract, reportedly worth up to $US70 million over two years, with realistic expectations about Renault’s initial competitiveness. Though the team rose to fourth on the grid last season, the gap to Red Bull, Ferrari and champion Mercedes was significant.
“We knew that it would take some time to come back on the podium. We know that we still have a gap with the front runners,” Stoll said.
“But we are investing massively and for 2019 it’s just about keeping the momentum of the improvement. We don’t know what’s going to be the final position at the end. Fourth is the minimum, but how far from the top teams? As close as possible.”
Ricciardo’s teammate Nico Hulkenburg admitted that the Australian’s arrival would force him to lift his game.
“It’s an important and big year in a way that I now have a teammate who is a proven grand prix winner,” the German said.