Daniel Ricciardo has opened up about his future at Renault, dismissing the theory that he only ever saw his stint at the French team as a bridge to his next drive.
Ricciardo is on a two-year deal at Renault, with growing speculation that he’ll be leaving at the end of 2020.
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However the Aussie driver has addressed his future and offered an insight into how Renault can keep him.
“So next year, what would I need to see?” Ricciardo said in an interview with BBC.
“Obviously improvements — not just from one position to the next, but solid improvements that actually we could realistically fight for a podium at some point next year. That would be very encouraging and motivating for everyone.
“I know we’re still a long way off that but I still believe it’s in reach. I don’t think we’re dreamers; we just have to clean up a few things.
“I still look back at Canada — if we can qualify fourth at the seventh race of the season, I still believe anything’s possible with these guys.”
Ricciardo said he’d love to stay and never saw his Renault deal as a ‘layover’ until he can go to a bigger team like Ferrari or Mercedes.
“Do I want to stay? Yes, because ideally we do get this to the next level,” Ricciardo said.
“It was my massive intention to come here. My intention wasn’t to have a two-year layover somewhere else.
“I know people might still think that, but I really want this to work. I feel like the hours I have put in this year have shown I have the drive to want to do so.”
Ricciardo hails ‘special’ efforts with engine
The Australian and teammate Nico Hulkenberg delivered a strong performance at Monza to finish fourth and fifth, and give their team hope that it can still overhaul McLaren in the constructors' championship.
For Ricciardo, the performance was proof of how much progress Renault had made with its power in 2019, which is why he is so keen to point out how good a job its Viry-Chatillon engine base has done.
"We finally got 'maximum' points, if you know what I mean, and that's really pleasing," he recently told motorsport.com.
"I want to kind of give an extra special shout-out to Viry, to the engine boys. I think to get this sort of result with the Renault team and power unit is quite a statement.
"Every year we [went to Monza] and it feels like there's a lack of optimism. At least, over the last few years it was never a strength of ours. And for them to turn it around this year to make the gains and put on this result is special.
"Hopefully we can learn something from these low-downforce circuits and take it into a high-downforce one, like Singapore."