Renault is happy about the progress made in 2020 but doesn’t think the F1 season is a breakthrough for them as they admit that they will miss Daniel Ricciardo.
Ever since Renault returned to F1 in the hybrid era, the French manufacturer is still fighting hard to find its feat at the front of the field. They have won races via customer team, Red Bull, but they are still waiting for the glorious moment as a manufacturer team.
They achieved their maiden podium this year courtesy Ricciardo and is amid a big fight for third in the constructors’ championship with Racing Point and McLaren also in the game. They had a slim lead but the grand prix in Turkey changed the complexion.
They are now 13 points behind McLaren and 18 behind Racing Point. It is so close that Ferrari is just six behind Renault. It will be a tight finish but Marcin Budkowski doesn’t see it as a breakthrough season for the French manufacturer.
He feels that Renault has managed to understand the car better to reap rewards. “The fight for third depends a little bit on the weekend and on the conditions,” said Budkowski. “Certainly it’s a very very tight fight. We’ve lost valuable points to reliability the last few races which is something we’re not happy about and we are working very hard to get that back under control because that could be the deciding the factor.
“It’s good to have a fast car but you need to have a reliable car to score the points. For the good run, I think it’s a combination. I think the Renault car this year is clearly a better car than we had last year. We addressed some of the major weaknesses we had on last year’s car. We’ve made good progress during the season, we’ve made good upgrades.
“That’s obviously pushed us forward in the pecking order, but we’ve also understood the car better and I wouldn’t call it a breakthrough but it was progressive learning and understanding of the car and therefore in parallel, you understand the car better and you improve it and when all these things come together you start to perform better and we’re in such a tight group, the differences are so small in the midfield cars that by being in the front of the group, you’re taking the opportunities such as podiums as we’ve seen such as the big points,” summed up Budkowski.
While they are certainly seeing progress on the car side, Renault will lose one big driving force, Ricciardo, as he switches to rival McLaren. Even though they have Fernando Alonso incoming but the team will miss the character and infectious enthusiasm.
“He’s at the top of his form, he’s driving exceptionally well and that shows in the team results but also in his personal results so of course we will miss him but we will also miss the character,” said Budkowski. “He’s a smiley, engaging character which is a pleasure to work with him. Daniel walks in the room and suddenly the mood in the room picks up because his smile and his enthusiasm is infectious.”
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