Daniel Ricciardo cops massive reality check from new Renault boss

Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul says Daniel Ricciardo needs to have a ‘harder skin’ after complaining of feeling emotionally drained after his shocker at the Australian Grand Prix.

Ricciardo vowed to change his approach to his home Grand Prix after his tilt at a maiden podium at the Albert Park circuit ended in disaster.

Ricciardo’s first race for Renault was effectively over just seconds after it started on Sunday.

The front wing of his car was ripped off when he was forced onto the grass beside the starting grid in the frenzied moments after the lights went out.

The West Australian limped into the pits to have a replacement wing fitted on the first lap.

He rejoined at the rear of the 20-car field and moved into 18th place before he retired with an unspecified fault 31 laps into the 58-lap race.

Daniel Ricciardo (far left) loses his front wing as the 2019 Formula 1 season begins. (Photo by Morgan Hancock/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

It was his third retirement in Australia, to go with a disqualification in 2014, much to the disappointment of his legion of adoring fans.

“I’m flat … I feel like it’s hard to get things going here,” Ricciardo told reporters.

“I’m just drained. I try and please everyone this week and don’t look after myself.

“We should be a top-eight car. Bahrain will be a lot easier. It will be like a holiday week and l can prepare properly.”

But according to Abiteboul, the Aussie may be setting his expectations too high.

“It’s not that he underestimated it, but as a midfield team we do not operate in the same way as a top team,” Abiteboul told French publication Auto Hebdo.

“Maybe Daniel will have to get a harder skin and some more patience at the start.

Daniel Ricciardo after his withdrawal. (Photo by ASANKA BRENDON RATNAYAKE/AFP/Getty Images)

“But I am absolutely not panicked. He is an intelligent guy.

“In Bahrain, we will have a more traditional circuit with more space at the sides.”

Ricciardo’s woes on home soil

Abiteboul said it was “a bit strange” for a gutter to be hiding where Ricciardo left the track, but also said it was “not necessarily a place where the car is supposed to be.”

Starting from 12th position on the grid after a disappointing qualifying effort, it’s unlikely Ricciardo would have got to within shouting distance of the podium even if he had avoided the early mayhem.

But it was a missed opportunity to secure championship points and learn more about his new machine under race conditions

Fourth remains Ricciardo’s best result in Melbourne, a result he achieved in 2016 and 2018.

The 29-year-old is always a man in high demand at his home race but he clearly feels he needs to cut back on his promotional work and focus on racing matters if he is to go one better next year.

“I don’t want to blame that but I certainly didn’t … I don’t know – I feel flat for more reasons than one,” he said.