Daniel Ricciardo says he hasn’t doubted his move to Renault despite an underwhelming first season at the team and the contrasting fortunes Red Bull has enjoyed since he left last year.

Reflecting on his maiden year outside of the Red Bull fold, the Australian driver admits adapting to the reality of fighting in the F1 midfield rather than at the sharp end of the grid took time to mentally adjust to along with Renault failing to reach its 2019 targets.

With McLaren claiming fourth place in the F1 world constructors’ championship ahead of Renault in fifth, the French manufacturer endured an inconsistent campaign going from the ‘best of the rest’ behind the top three teams of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull to struggling to fight for points.

Ricciardo admits he hit a low when he and team-mate Nico Hulkenberg suffered a double mechanical failure in the closing stages of the Bahrain Grand Prix with both drivers on for strong points finishes but he never reached a moment when he questioned his decision to leave Red Bull for Renault.

“I never actually got to the point where I was like what have I done? At the start of the year after Bahrain I was a bit down, albeit it was only the second race of the year,” Ricciardo said.

“I was more down on my performance in terms of it is not that easy to come in and bring this car up. The reality of me reaching my potential in a car that was difficult, at times I was like this is not going to be as easy as I thought.

“But then Shanghai and that was a good weekend. That was the best of the rest weekend. So it quickly turned around but after Bahrain. I didn’t get to a point where I regretted it or was questioning it.”

Ricciardo feels adjusting to the F1 midfield fight came as a bigger challenge to his own mindset than he anticipated coupled with the tough campaign as Renault struggled to find consistent performance gains.

“[I thought] Can I do this? With Nico, he is experienced and has been in the midfield pack for a long time, and I could already see that, and I was like I can’t let him build too much confidence early because it is just going to get harder for me. So, I was aware that I had to figure it out quickly.”

Ricciardo ended the 2019 F1 season in ninth place in the drivers’ standings with the highlight of fourth place at the Italian Grand Prix which gave Renault its best result since returning to the sport as a fully-fledged constructor.

Former teammate Max Verstappen finished third in the F1 drivers’ world championship for Red Bull collecting three wins and six further rostrum finishes during his teams’ first year in partnership with Honda.

 

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