Daniel Ricciardo believes Lewis Hamilton’s championship-winning run at Mercedes is proof he can upset the odds by turning new team Renault into a front-running force.
Ricciardo, 29, stunned Formula One by turning his back on Red Bull and jumping ship to Renault.
Ricciardo won twice last season, but his new employers have not troubled the podium since they returned to the grid as a standalone constructor in 2016.
Like Ricciardo, Hamilton faced intense scrutiny for his decision to drop McLaren in favour of a move to Mercedes six years ago.
Nico, Daniel. 2019 colours.February 12, 2019
But Hamilton’s switch turned out to be an inspired one, going on to win four of the last five championships with the sport’s dominant team.
“I can certainly take something from Lewis’s success with Mercedes,” said Ricciardo.
“It might not feel like it now, but his good run wasn’t immediate, and his first season there in 2013 wasn’t straightforward.
“That tested him, and even up until 2014 his career wasn’t smooth-sailing, so I can draw from his persistence alone.
“Look at him now. It has given him more years in the sport because without his success he probably would have walked away a few seasons ago.
“So, that is certainly motivating and proof in the pudding that it can be done. We have the resources, so there is no reason why we can’t do it.”
Ricciardo was making his first appearance in Renault colours on Tuesday as he, and team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, took the wraps off their new car at the French team’s HQ in Enstone, Oxfordshire.
Ricciardo jovially introduced himself to the assembled guests by saying “Bonjour, je m’appelle, Daniel”, before adding: “I only joined this team to learn French.”
1977 to 2019. Every line. Every curve. Using the most advanced technology available, and improving year on year. Breaking new grounds. All leading to today.
Here is the 2019 Renault F1 Team challenger. Here is the R.S.19.
The Australian is a favourite among the fans for his off-track humour, but he wasn’t laughing in the latter stages of last season, as he ended his five-year tenure at Red Bull with a series of mechanical failures.
“F1 can bring you down, but that is also a sign for me that I f****** care, and I want to be successful,” he added. “If I am like ‘f*** this s***’, it is not because I really feel that way, but it is like I wish it didn’t suck this much, yet I know it is going to make me stronger.
“It is not the most straightforward sport and it has given me a lot of experience in life and I would not change it, but if I was nine again, would I pick up a tennis racquet instead? Potentially, but it is only because I really care.”
Ricciardo’s former team-mate Max Verstappen will lead Red Bull’s title challenge to Mercedes for the new campaign which gets under way in Melbourne next month.
Five-time champion Hamilton, 34, will get the first taste of his new car at a closed-door shakedown event at Silverstone on Wednesday. The opening winter test starts in Barcelona next week.
- Press Association