'Ironic' Ricciardo will now compete against 'stronger' Renault he created

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Cyril Abiteboul sees "irony" in Daniel Ricciardo now having to compete against the "stronger" Renault team he helped create over the past two years.

The Australian enjoyed a much-improved season with the French manufacturer in 2020, claiming two podiums en route to fifth in the Drivers' Championship.

Key to the improvements was finding the sweet spot in optimising the potential of the Renault car, which had been their biggest weakness the year prior.

However, all this came after Ricciardo had already signed with McLaren for 2021 back in May, much to Abiteboul's dismay.

"I think there is no doubt about the progression of the team this year," the team boss was quoted by GPFans.

"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 on track.

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"The partnership has delivered positively and 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.

"Obviously all that Daniel has brought to Renault we will be missing but we’re also glad to see him in a great team and we look forward to an exciting battle against McLaren and Daniel next year."

Replacing Ricciardo at Renault is, of course, two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso.

However, former Red Bull driver Mark Webber does expect the team that will be known as Alpine from this season will still miss the 'Honey Badger'.

“I think he drove awesome this year,” he told SpeedCafe.

“I’ve actually personally spent more time with Daniel than ever this year and it’s been quite good to see [how] he’s enjoyed this year.

“Not [because of] less pressure, but just because he really felt valued at the team and he’s going to feel that again, I think, at McLaren next year. That’s sort of the step away from where he was at Red Bull.

“I think he did what he advertised he was going to do at Renault and that’s what he is.

“He’s an infectious character, he lifted Enstone, they really did a good job, he carried the team effectively this year, made very little errors, and he’ll take that to McLaren.

“So, I think Daniel’s stock is still tremendous, we know that, and he’s good for the sport.”