Daniel Ricciardo says his belief that he can be F1 World Champion will contribute to whatever decision he makes for the 2021 season as doubts continue to shroud his future at Renault.

The Australian left Red Bull for Renault in 2019 in the hope he could spur the French team on to closing the gap to the ‘big three’ but endured a tough campaign mired in the midfield with only a handful of points finishes and no podiums.

While there are hopes Renault will make more in-roads into the front-running teams in 2020, the slow progress means Ricciardo may feel compelled to move on again with the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari both having potential seats free in 2021 if they don’t renew with Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel respectively.

It is this desire to challenge for an F1 world championship that Ricciardo says will play a part in the decision-making process and whether he would better served moving on or staying committed to the Renault project.

“My basic target with this whole journey was not just get into F1. It was to leave a world champion,” he told the BBC. "Was I excited to get to F1? Absolutely. Do I love it? Yes. I haven't got there yet. But am I still enjoying it? Absolutely.

"But if it ended today would I be disappointed? A big part of me would be because it's something I really believe I am good enough to achieve, so I would feel it has left smelting on the table.

"That is the ultimate goal. The day I stop believing I'm able to get that any more it is the day you'll probably see me walk away from the sport, but I certainly still believe this can happen."

The dilemma comes at a particularly difficult moment for Ricciardo in the wake of the coronavirus and the upcoming regulation changes which could shake up the order entirely.

Indeed, the seven-time race winner would have used the first part of the season to judge whether Renault had made sufficient progress, but he now may need to rely more on instinct as negotiations start.

“It's frustrating that the sport is driven quite a lot by being in the right equipment in the right season," he added. "But it's what I signed up for. And that in itself is an exciting part of the sport.

"The challenge is to position yourself with the best team at that moment and when rule changes come in, it’s, like, is that still the right team to be with, or are we missing something? Do we need to try to build on what we've got here?

"It’s kind of like chess a lot of the time. I wish it was black and white and everyone had the same and we could go and see who was the best, but that is not how it works. But I do feel that the best will always find a way to make it to the top."

 

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