Renault Formula 1 team boss Cyril Abiteboul believes new recruit Daniel Ricciardo has the qualities to lead the team to a world championship.
Ricciardo shocked the Formula 1 paddock last August when he announced plans to join Renault, a team that on paper is not at the same level as previous employer Red Bull.
Though not yet a race winner in its current guise, Renault has been investing heavily since returning to F1 a constructor in 2016.
Ricciardo is the most recent addition to the team, the seven-time grand prix winner a coup after many expected him to remain with Red Bull.
“First and foremost, when you look at drivers you look at speed, you look at talent, you look at achievements and all of that; he was ticking all of these boxes,” Abiteboul explained to Speedcafe.com.
“He’s an accomplished grand prix winner, he is clearly world championship material.
“He’s fast, we see that he’s consistent. We knew from our engineers that were embedded into the Red Bull organisation that he’s fantastic at leading a team, at developing the car, at setting up the car.
“We knew all of that, but in addition to all of that it was important to get some form of ambassador of someone who would be representing the team.
“That energy that he’s bringing, that smile that he’s bringing, that authenticity that he’s bringing is something that’s very relevant to the values of Renault and of our team.
“I want this team to feel a bit like a family and that’s the sort of person that I want within that family.”
While Ricciardo admitted to being disappointed by the result, and shouldering the blame, Abiteboul believes it’s his job to deliver Ricciardo a better car, one as capable as he believes his new signing is.
“He’s got some clear and strong comment about what needs to be improved on the car so it can improve his confidence level and therefore his ability to be quicker,” Abiteboul admitted.
“We’ve got two elements in particular of the car that I’m not going to discuss that he wants us to improve, so the ball is very much in our court.
“Absolutely, there is pressure,” he added
“There is pressure for Daniel, for Renault, for our other partners.
“Our legacy is one of a very successful car maker into the sport, even though we are a mainstream car maker, so that makes us a bit of a different animal.
“People need to appreciate that it takes time to form a team and go back to a winning position. That’s what we are trying to do.
“We have no evidence that we are not in line with that plan even though I accept that the most difficult part is yet to come, but we are focused on making that happen.”