Daniel Ricciardo’s announcement he was moving to McLaren shocked the F1 world and the Renault sporting director has admitted the move still hasn’t sunk in.
The bombshell development in May came on the same day that current McLaren driver Carlos Sainz Jr was confirmed as Sebastian Vettel's replacement at Ferrari.
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Ricciardo's move took many observers by surprise, with F1 experts perhaps expecting him to see how the rest of the 2020 season panned out, before making a decision.
Now Renault sporting director, Alan Permane, has admitted he is still getting to terms with the move.
“Pre-COVID, when he would come to the factory and the whole team would be gathered in the race shop, you could tell there’s just love from everyone for him,” Permane told the Beyond the Grid podcast.
“And I tell him every week it’s not too late to change his mind. Seriously, I do!”
“Of course, it’s tongue-in-cheek and I know he can’t change his mind, and he doesn’t even pretend to say he would even consider it out of respect to his new team and all that.”
The coronavirus pandemic certainly brought a halt to the F1 season and interrupted the schedule.
Permane said he has wondered if Ricciardo would have stayed under different circumstances.
“But who knows, if this had been a normal season and people weren’t making their minds up about team changes before we had even really turned a wheel, who knows where we would be now?,” he said.
“But we are [where we are] so we just have to deal with that, and without that we wouldn’t have Fernando Alonso coming back. So one door closes, another one opens for the team, if you like.”
Permane praises Ricciardo’s drive
In a big show of respect to Ricciardo, and an even bigger loss for Renault, Permane said he rates the Aussie in a class above the majority of drivers in the field.
“I’m only speaking from what I see, [which is] the same as everyone else sees – okay, I’ve seen a little bit more of Daniel but there’s him, there’s Lewis, there’s Charles and there’s Max. I think those four are a different level,” Permane added.
“In and out of the car, you don’t meet many who are pretty much spot-on both ways. Daniel has done a great job in building a very strong team around him in terms of engineering, his mechanics and the people in the garage.”
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