Renault’s strong showing at the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix has ‘ignited a pretty nice fire’ within the team according to Daniel Ricciardo.
The Australian qualified fourth in Montreal before racing his way to sixth at the flag after battling with Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen.
With Nico Hulkenberg just one spot further back, it marked the best result of the season for the team after a troublesome opening series of races.
“It was important for sure,” Ricciardo said of the Renault’s performance in Canada.
“It had slowly been coming, we’d started putting a string of Q3s together.
“I think we were slowly releasing that weight. But I think just for the team as well, not only did it give a bit of ‘alright’ but it also I feel ignited a pretty nice fire.
“The team tasted their first taste of a pretty big result in a while, especially the qualifying. Nearly getting interviewed after qualifying; even getting a sniff of that was good to see.
“Obviously the competitor in me always wants that, that’s always there, but seeing it within the engineers and the mechanics and everyone; everyone just had a buzz about them, so that was nice.”
While the points gained in Canada proved a boon for the team’s constructors’ championship standings, more importantly for Ricciardo was the boost to self belief.
It’s been a barren patch for Renault, which last won a world title with Fernando Alonso in 2006.
The French marque then pulled the pin on its F1 program at the end of 2008 following the Crash Gate saga at that year’s Singapore Grand Prix.
Known for a time as Lotus, the team’s last win came courtesy of Kimi Raikkonen at the 2013 Australian Grand Prix.
Since Renault returned for 2016, the team has been slowly moving in an upward trajectory, something Ricciardo can already see signs of within the squad.
“I think the biggest thing, and I’m seeing it now evolve as well, is that when I went to Red Bull they’d just won four straight titles,” he explained.
“So I walked into a team with a certain level of confidence and, not arrogance, but confidence which can sometimes be seen as arrogance.
“But they knew they were the best, everything about them and whatever. So there’s that kind of level of confidence, and I guess here, it’s taken a bit of time to get that.
“It’s even just the way the team responds to a fight on the track or a good result. Instead of just a little clap, it’s like ‘come on!’ get some fire going, and I’ve seen already that transform from the first few races.
“I think they’re starting to realise that bigger things are possible, and that’s creating a bit more atmosphere in the garage.”
Renault heads into this weekend’s French Grand Prix fifth in the constructors’ championship, having languished in ninth for much of the opening third of the 2019 season.
Opening practice begins at the Paul Ricard circuit at 1900 AEST this evening.