Daniel Ricciardo has long stated that the F1 season will be chaotic when it returns but the Aussie star has admitted the season will have an asterisk unless it hits at least 10 races.
While Ricciardo’s move to McLaren in the place of Carlos Sainz after his move into Sebastian Vettel’s vacated Ferrari seat has been part of the biggest story of the F1 season suspension, the Aussie is still focused on 2020.
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With the season to restart in Austria on the weekend of July 3, the Aussie is preparing to face the new world of Formula One.
But with Lewis Hamilton potentially having the opportunity to match Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world titles with a win in 2020 and with the rise of next gen stars Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen each chasing their first titles, the question has arisen about what would be a legitimate world title.
Although Ricciardo is looking more at being the best of the midfield before departing Renault, the experienced Aussie has said he expects a mid-length season rather than a sprint to make it a”legit” world championship.
“Right now I would say it’s legit,” Ricciardo said on the Australian Grand Prix Corporation’s In the Fast Lane podcast.
“If we only did four or five races, maybe (there would be an asterisk). But I think if we get anything from 10 and above there is enough races there to figure out who the champion is in my mind.
“Obviously the atmosphere is going to be different around the paddock without fans at least for the first part of the season. But the reality is we are all racing, the same drivers, the same cars and for me the competition is not going to change.”
Daniel Ricciardo admitted he missed the ‘circus’ during the break.Source:AAP
After spending plenty of time in isolation on his farm outside Perth, Ricciardo said the time away helped him come to the decision to leave Renault and join McLaren in 2021.
But as the sport returns, there are some things he’s not looking forward to, like the COVID-testing.
“One thing I am sure of, because I’ve already experienced it, is the whole COVID-testing, the nose swab – that is not fun and we have to get that another 30 times this year,” Ricciardo said.
“I did not enjoy that at all, that’s something I know is going to happen and I’m certainly not looking forward to.
“I think for the most part we will miss the chaos of it all. Even when I was out on the farm … there were moments even out there where I was like ‘I do miss the chaos, I do miss the limelight and all that’.
“I’m sure Austria and the first however many races without spectators and the circus it’s not going to feel as good as it once did.”
All F1 drivers will have to take a COVID-19 every five days from the first race weekend onwards.
Ricciardo has the elbow shake down.Source:Getty Images
A larrikin and one of the most loved drivers on the grid, Ricciardo will also have to change the way he greets his colleagues.
“I’m a hugger. I like hugging people. So that’s going to change,” Ricciardo told reporters in a Renault F1 video call on Friday. “I’ve got to keep my distance. We’re going to find some new ways to embrace each other, especially after a good result. But obviously we’re going to do what we can to keep this thing away and keep it out of the paddock.”
But the future is also bright according to F1 legend Sir Jackie Stewart. Speaking to the Wide World of Sports, the three-time world champion said that Ricciardo had made the right decision to jump ship to McLaren.
After explaining why he felt the need to jump to McLaren after a dramatic improvement last season that saw the team overtake Renault as the best of the rest behind the big three teams, Ricciardo admitted it “wasn’t a clear-cut decision”.
Ricciardo, who turns 31 on July 1, also admitted he felt he had to make the decision before the season restarted.
Ricciardo will have another season at Renault.Source:Getty Images
While the reaction to the move has been mixed, especially with the 2020 versions of the cars unseen as yet, Ricciardo has picked up a big name in his corner with Stewart behind the Aussie’s decision.
“I think that‘s a good move. I like Daniel very much as a driver. I like him as a friend, but also a lot as a driver,” Stewart told WWOS.
“Mercedes is so dominant at the present time, they‘ve got more money than anyone else, and they’re very well managed. To beat the Mercedes team at the present time is no easy matter.
“McLaren‘s got a lot of experience at winning, so I certainly hope for Daniel’s sake that he can be in a competitive situation.”
Despite finding himself stuck in the midfield with Renault, Stewart understands why the Australian needed to leave Red Bull.
Stewart said Ricciardo had done “the right thing” after a less than spectacular season with Renault in 2019 and having moved on when he saw the writing on the wall at Red Bull when Max Verstappen emerged.
While many are hopeful the move to McLaren will return Ricciardo to the podium, McLaren boss Zak Brown told the Sky Sports Vlog that he doesn’t think 2021 will be the year the team returns to winning the championship, with the originally proposed 2021 changes to regulations pushed back to 2022.
McLaren will also take on Mercedes engines from 2021, but it might take some time to produce results.
“I think Daniel is a championship calibre driver,” Brown said.
“I don’t think we’ll quite give him a championship calibre car in 2021, we’re still on our road to recovery. But I think we will give him a competitive car and in 2022, let’s see what happens.”
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