If the 2019 Formula One season was a let-down for fans of Renault and Daniel Ricciardo, then 2020 could turn out to be even worse.
Pre-season testing hasn’t even commenced yet, but the French manufacturer has already moved to play down expectations in the second and final year of Ricciardo’s mega-money deal.
'LOST THAT BOND': F1 champ Lewis Hamilton opens up about relationship with father
'SERIOUSLY IMPRESSIVE': Scott McLaughlin stuns US with 'special' IndyCar
Renault carried expectations of challenging for podiums after finishing fourth two years ago - but increased competition in the midfield saw them slip behind a resurgent McLaren team, and barely finish ahead of smaller teams in Racing Point and Toro Rosso.
Now, French racing legend and non-executive director Alain Prost has admitted in an interview with Autosport that the team has a lot of work ahead of them to prove to Ricciardo that he should stay with the team for the 2021 season.
“This year, we have to say the truth,” Prost said.
“We don't have a high expectation about this year, so it's a shame for Daniel, the second year with not a lot but it is going to be better.
“I think it's going to be more his perception of what we could do for 2021, and also being realistic about the offers he is going to have from other teams.
“He will decide by himself but we will talk very soon. We don't have everything in our hands, that's for sure.”
Ricciardo, now 30, will have reasonable expectations for a car capable of more points finishes than the eight he mustered from 21 races last season.
Not showing a car at our Season Opener raised a few eyebrows, so we asked Cyril to explain why we decided to do things differently this year:— Renault F1 Team (@RenaultF1Team) February 13, 2020
"In previous years, we’ve presented a showcar altered to look like that season’s car but there’s little point in doing that. ... (1/3) pic.twitter.com/OmQhHEnbtO
The Australian driver will be accompanied by a new teammate for the 2020 season in Esteban Ocon, the former Force India driver who is returning to the grid after a season as a reserve driver for Mercedes.
Pre-season testing in Barcelona will kick off soon, from February 19-21 and later this same month, from the 26th to the 28th.
The season opening Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park will be held from March 12-15.