Ricciardo 'due' for Melbourne GP result

Laine Clark
Daniel Ricciardo is eyeing home victory at this weekend's Australian Grand Prix

The trademark smile was still ever present but Daniel Ricciardo has admitted ahead of this weekend's Formula One season opener in Melbourne that he is still bitter after being denied an historic Australian Grand Prix podium finish back in 2014.

However, the 30-year-old Renault star reckons he is finally due a good result at Albert Park on Sunday.

No local has made it on to the Australian Grand Prix podium since it became a world championship round in 1985.

Yet the drought appeared to have been broken six years ago.

In his first year with powerhouse Red Bull, Ricciardo whipped the Albert Park faithful into a frenzy with a stirring second-place finish.

Then disaster struck.

In a late night stewards ruling made hours after delirious fans went home happy, Ricciardo was sensationally disqualified for exceeding the mandated hourly fuel flow rate limit.

Not that Ricciardo had to be reminded before the 2020 season opener which will start with Friday practice.

"The irony is that was my best year (at Melbourne in 2014) but that got taken away - I am still bitter," said Ricciardo, somehow still sporting his famous grin.

Ricciardo's luck does not appear to have changed at his home grand prix since.

He may have finished fourth in 2016 and 2018 but he has never appeared to have the rub of the green at Albert Park, a trend perhaps typified by his debut with Renault last year following his shock departure from Red Bull.

His 2019 season opener was over before it could really begin after he careered into the grass just as the race started, losing his front wing and being pushed to the back of the pack.

He tried to battle on but eventually retired on lap 38.

Yet Ricciardo was convinced his fortunes were about to change at the circuit this weekend.

"It's a game of percentages right?" Ricciardo said.

"I feel like one year's pretty good (at Melbourne), one year's not. I think I'm due a good one."

Off contract, Ricciardo has been linked to a 2021 move to Ferrari.

But Ricciardo hinted at a bright future with Renault - starting at Melbourne - after finishing third fastest in pre-season testing.

Then again it seems the only way is up after Renault finished a distant fifth in the 2019 constructors' standings and Ricciardo a disappointing ninth in the drivers' championship.

"I think the test ended well for us. I was certainly more optimistic," Ricciardo said.

"I'm like, 'I'm a lot more comfortable in this car now'. I'm looking forward to seeing that I can do."