Ricciardo surprised by Hulkenberg exit at Renault

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Daniel Ricciardo admits he was caught by surprise by Renault's decision to part ways with Nico Hulkenberg for 2020.

Last weekend at Spa, it was announced that Esteban Ocon would replace the German, this after Mercedes had pushed the team to take on the Frenchman having reneged on an agreement in principle to do so a year earlier.

Despite only being teammates for nine months though, Ricciardo praised the relationship the pair had developed after revealing his initial shock.

"Yeah, I had no indication prior to last week that he was going to go," he said. "I'm not sure yet what his plan is. If he wants to keep racing in F1, I hope for him he finds something.

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"He's been, I want to say, easy to work with. We kind of just did our thing," the Australian explained.

"He's experienced, he's been around. It's kind of no-nonsense, 'We're here, we're going to race' and try to give the team as much info as possible.

"It's a relaxed approach with him and up until now it's been pretty effortless."

The Ricciardo/Hulkenberg pairing was one that stood out when it was confirmed a year ago, as it was an opportunity for Nico, who has never had his big break at a top team in F1, to prove himself against the former Red Bull driver.

"In a way that was going to drive him to perform really well this year," Ricciardo believed.

"Now having me in the team, if he beats me, it's, 'Well, you know he's a race-winning driver'. So I thought he would bring his best this year and try to remind people what he feels he is capable of.

"The first few races I saw that and there was still quite a bit for me to learn and gel with the car, so, I wasn't surprised when he came out pretty quick in the first few and I was like, 'Ah, got a bit of work to do'.

"Then I started to gather momentum and it's gone back-and-forth since, but yeah, he's quick. As far as technique goes and that, some similarities to Max [Verstappen] in some areas."

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