Eifel GP podium validates Ricciardo hiring in 2018 - Renault

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Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul believes Daniel Ricciardo's third place at the Eifel Grand Prix validated the decision to lure him from Red Bull.

On Sunday, the French manufacturer scored its first podium as a full works constructor since 2009 as the Australian held off Sergio Perez in the final laps at the Nurburgring.

However, while all seemed quite relaxed in the car, Abiteboul revealed the retirements of Esteban Ocon and Lando Norris to engine-related problems meant a lot of nervousness on the pitwall.

"It's been a very long race, particularly from the moment when we lost a car," the Frenchman said post-race.

"As a team principal when you lose a car because of a reliability issue that just increases the pressure, the tension on the 60 laps and when you see that a good result is possible, and also on our side, we had a couple of alerts.

"I think these [very cold] conditions are actually extreme for the cars, we are not really used to that. The emotions were very high and the tension was very high."

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In the end, Ricciardo was able to bring the car home with a result that had appeared increasingly on the cards as Daniel has been the third-highest points scorer in the past five races only behind the two Mercedes'. 

"The timing is good, but I think it's just a fact that the team has progressed," Abiteboul said.

"It's very visible for a few races. We understand the car better, the set-up works better, at any track frankly.

"We were a bit worried here because this is the first time we are coming back to a track that is extra high downforce, and here also it's working.

"So it's a good indication of the progression, although we were helped a little bit by the circumstances, with the retirement of [Valtteri] Bottas.

"Clearly, our car is not good for a podium under absolutely normal circumstances but what is good is that when it happens, when there is an opportunity to be able to nail it down."

For Abiteboul, the result also now means he'll have to get a tattoo after a bet he made with Ricciardo "after a few beers" at Silverstone last year.

But in the bigger picture, Cyril feels the accomplishment proves he was right to sign Ricciardo despite those who criticise the big money Renault paid to attract him away from Red Bull.

Ric AusGP 2019

“I think it was very important for everyone to put the commentators at bay and show why it made sense at the time," he said.

“Yes, it was disappointing last year. You could argue that it was one year too early, but there are not that many opportunities to have a driver like Daniel who is available on the market. So I still believe that it was the right thing to do at the time.

“The team wouldn’t be what it is today without Daniel and maybe thanks also to the year that we had together last year," Abiteboul noted.

“[It] was indeed a very painful year which has pushed all of us, probably starting with myself, to take the measures that we’ve taken. And also supported with the team in Enstone with Marcin Budkowski and so on and so forth.

“Now we are finding ourself in a much better position for this year and for next year and Daniel is capable of doing this type of thing. So I think it’s a statement.”

Of course, the only downside to last year was it ultimately motivated Ricciardo to give up on the Renault project after 2020 and move to midfield rivals McLaren for next season.

In two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, however, the team has a very handy replacement.