Daniel Ricciardo knew he was leaving Renault for pastures new at McLaren before a wheel had even been turned in anger in 2020, but that did not stop him from delivering a breakthrough season for the French manufacturer.

Undeterred by his impending departure to midfield rivals McLaren, Ricciardo remained focused as he built on a steady first campaign with Renault to improve its fortunes significantly in year two of their relationship.

It took until the British Grand Prix before Renault really started getting the most from its 2020 package and from there on in Ricciardo shined, with the Australian one of the few drivers on the grid who was able to truly maximise the full potential of the machinery at his disposal.

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Ricciardo was staggeringly fast in qualifying, and arguably even more impressive on race day as he scored points in all but three races across a remarkably consistent season. There were seven top-five appearances, topped off by two visits to the podium and subsequent ‘shoeys’.

Ricciardo ended Renault’s nine-year wait for a rostrum in Germany and followed that up with another third place at Imola as he surged up to fifth place in the championship standing, comfortably brushing aside teammate Esteban Ocon in the process.

His performances were key to Renault securing fifth place in the constructors’ championship with its best points haul since returning to the sport as a full-time works outfit in 2016. Ricciardo leaves the team nicely poised for two-time world champion Fernando Alonso’s arrival next year at the rebranded Alpine squad.

Ricciardo proved his class in 2020 and underlined that he has world champion potential in a midfield-running car. He heads to a resurgent McLaren that is going to be boosted by having the best engine in F1 in the back of its car.

Come back tomorrow to find out which drivers made it into our top three…

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