Daniel Ricciardo accepts the performance gap between his new Renault squad and the leading three teams in Formula 1 is greater than he hoped for but remains optimistic of closing the deficit over the opening rounds.

Ricciardo suffered a nightmare start to his 2019 F1 season, having switched from Red Bull to Renault over the winter, when he sustained a broken front wing and major damage going off track on the sprint to the first corner in Australia two weeks ago.

While the lasting damage forced him to retire from his home round, Ricciardo feels having had time to assess the weekend and the performance of his team he remains upbeat that his start isn’t a sign of things to come. The Australian driver did concede the performance deficit from Renault to the leading teams is still significant but within his expectations.

“For sure bigger than hoping but not bigger than expected,” Ricciardo said about the performance gap between Renault and the top three teams. “The turnaround from Abu Dhabi to Melbourne is short, there is some time, but it is still not massive to create a second gap or something like that, to close in a second or so.

“I don’t know from last year what the delta was from pole to where Renault qualified. I feel like we are closer to the pack than they were last year, but I’m not unpleasantly surprised or anything like that.”

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Ricciardo is also certain of finding plenty of gains from his current R.S.19 package, including trying “some things I had last year” from his Red Bull experience.

“I feel even with the current car we have, even before we start putting big updates on it, there is still more to extract from this car,” he said. “I can still get more out of it, just getting more comfortable driving it, but also a few things with set up. Some things that I had last year can be implemented in a few areas. We are looking alright.”

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