Ricciardo: Memories of Australia 2019 prove how far Renault has come

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Daniel Ricciardo says he'll keep the memories of his disastrous first race with Renault as proof of how far they came together.

This weekend marks the Australian's final race with the team before moving to McLaren just two years after taking his big gamble to leave Red Bull.

Certainly, in terms of results, this second year has been much better at Renault, with Ricciardo still having an outside chance of finishing 'best of the rest' in fourth in the Drivers' Championship.

And reflecting on his period in yellow, Ricciardo identified the biggest change he's seen.

“I've seen the team grow with confidence, self-belief, and facts are facts, they've obviously built a better car in the last 12 months," he said via Formula1.com.

"You guys see on paper, but as far as an atmosphere in the team, I certainly see a positive change and that's been really nice. How much of it is down to me, I don't know, but I certainly felt I tried to create something, or change something for the better.”

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Yet despite the positive moments in the second half of this season, including two podiums, Ricciardo explained why the disastrous race in Melbourne last year stands out the most.

“Honestly, I'll keep the memory of my first race last year because the whole weekend, I felt a little frustrated, obviously with the race itself, but with everything. It was a bit of a hit of like, 'okay, we've still got a lot of work to do'," he explained, having later admitted the off-track commitments that weekend had been too much.

“Now I look back on it and see how much we've changed, how much we've improved, how much more confidence we all have, I think, in the team. That feels like an eternity ago but I think it's important to remember that because it really does just prove what we've done.

“Obviously Nurburgring's the standout,” added Ricciardo. “The first podium, and hearing a few f-bombs from Cyril [Abiteboul, Renault Team Principal], that was nice. Everyone was just elated with that, it was just awesome.”

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Renault has admitted disappointment that Ricciardo made the decision to join McLaren before the revised 2020 season began back in May.

But commenting on their two years together, Abiteboul was full of praise for the 31-year-old.

“What he’s given first and foremost as a driver, he’s been remarkable, in particular this year,” he said.

“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.

“Daniel is a great ambassador, a team leader. He has clearly been instrumental to the changes that we’ve made last year when we had a disappointing season,” he added.

“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 against a much stronger team next year.”