(Motorsport-Total.com) – Daniel Ricciardo has finally made it. For the first time since moving from Red Bull to Renault, the Australian was able to take the podium again at the Eifel Grand Prix (Formula 1 2020 live in the ticker) – almost two and a half years after his last podium finish in Monaco in 2018. “To be honest, it feels like the very first podium again, “he laughs after Renault’s first podium.
“The feeling is like a happy shock,” he continues. And how “shocked” Ricciardo was, you could tell just by the fact that he had literally forgotten his famous “Shoey” on the podium.
Only when he was approached by journalists about his ritual after the ceremony did it occur to him: “Oh,” he says, visibly astonished. “This is really bad now. I just completely forgot about it,” he admits.
But the Renault driver also has an explanation for this: Ex-team-mate Max Verstappen immediately sprayed him full – and the champagne at the Nürburgring was as cold as its ambient temperature. “For the very first time they chilled the bottles. Usually the champagne is quite warm, but here it was icy,” says Ricciardo.
Tattoo with a German touch
“Maybe it’s just because it’s so cold here,” he continues, laughing. “I was just shocked by the cold. Now I’m really sad.” But Ricciardo quickly caught up with the “Shoey” in his driver’s cab and posted the evidence of his drink from the shoe on Instagram.
What Ricciardo is guaranteed not to forget, however, is his bet with team boss Cyril Abiteboul. Because the Frenchman is finally due after the podium: He now has to get a tattoo that Ricciardo can choose. “That will happen,” announced the Australian.
Ricciardo still has to think about which motive it will be. “It will probably have something to do with me, but I think with a German touch. We did it here,” he laughs. This will probably happen soon in London, where Ricciardo says he knows “a few artists”. “I have to call someone,” he grins.
Team boss Abiteboul is of course also reminded of his stake after the race, but he waves it away: “That is not the big story of the day.”
Renault: First podium since re-entry
It was important for the manufacturer to finally be able to celebrate the first podium position since returning to the 2016 season – and thus the first podium position since 2011. And, fittingly, in front of the eyes of the new managing director Luca de Meo, who was on site at the Nürburgring .
“The timing is good,” says team boss Abiteboul. “But the timing is just a fact that the team has made progress. You can see that very well for a few races. We understand the car better, and the set-up works better on every track,” praised the Frenchman. Since the Belgian Grand Prix you have scored at least twelve points in every race.
That also puts Renault in third place in the constructors’ championship within striking distance. Although they are still only in fifth place, they are only six points behind Racing Point and only two points behind McLaren. In addition to the top 3 drivers, Ricciardo is the only driver who still has arithmetical world championship chances – so only theoretically.
Third place almost lost to Perez
From Ricciardo’s point of view, the race in the Eifel today went almost perfectly. A key for him was that he was able to collect Alexander Albon (Red Bull) at the start. After that he was stopped by Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), but he was finally able to overtake the Monegasque. When Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) finally retired, the podium seemed within reach.
Ricciardo stopped after 16 laps when the virtual safety car was outside. Bad luck for him: just as he turned into the pits, the race management gave free rein and the Renault driver couldn’t make up any time. The competition for Lando Norris (McLaren) and Sergio Perez (Racing Point) stayed out longer and caused some headaches.
However, when most of the drivers came again to change tires during the safety car phase on lap 44, the conditions were the same again. “At the safety car restart I almost got Max, but that brought Perez very close. I thought he would overtake me at Turn 4,” he describes. “It was pretty stressful.”
“Long race” for Abiteboul
Abiteboul in particular at the command post had beads of sweat on his forehead. Renault had already lost Esteban Ocon with a technical defect, and Lando Norris also retired with problems with his Renault drive. “That was a particularly long race,” the team boss breathed deeply.
But Ricciardo was finally able to save third place to the finish. “It’s now been 2.5 years since I was on the podium. It’s really great,” he beamed. “When I signed the contract with Renault, we wanted to be on the podium in the second year. We did it.”
The team is happy about the result, even if you know that it would not have worked without Bottas’ failure. “Under normal circumstances our car is clearly not fast enough for a podium,” Abiteboul noted, “but it is good that we get it if we have an opportunity.”
Ricciardo wants to go on a high
For six races, Daniel Ricciardo and Renault still have time to continue their joint success story. Then the Australian says goodbye to McLaren. “I’m moving on, but it’s still a cool story these two years,” he says. “And the good thing is: it’s not over yet.”
Ricciardo is already looking forward to McLaren, but wants to end the season with Renault on a high. “People think that when you have problems saying goodbye is easier, but I don’t want to have problems,” he explains. “I want to be successful in every race. To be successful here is cool.”
But there is one thing that Daniel Ricciardo definitely achieved in his two years with the French. He has immortalized himself at Renault – if only as a tattoo on the skin of team boss Abiteboul.