Daniel Ricciardo’s impressive showing at the Japanese GP has a cloud hanging over it, but the Renault F1 star is refusing to let a cheating investigation get the team down as the season enters its final few rounds.
Renault are subject to an investigation by the FIA after rival team Racing Point complained the French outfit had been using an illegal brake balance system - a claim strenuously rejected by Ricciardo’s team.
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Ricciardo admitted he felt like team was going to go though the ‘same old crap’ after only qualifying 16th at Suzuka, before turning in one of his best drives of the season to drag his inconsistent Renault to 6th place, pending the outcome of the investigation.
The European swing was a disaster for Renault and Ricciardo, with the West Australian’s fourth-place finish at the Italian GP the only points he scored in the five races between the German and Russian races.
"Certainly (before the lights at the Japanese GP) I was thinking 'same old crap,' and that we can't really get a break with issues or whatever," Ricciardo said.
"But I feel like we finally got a result we deserve.
"We've got back-to-backs coming up now, some fun ones. So hopefully we can get a string of points finishes and try to just get something for the team.
"We get there, and then we drop, kind of the heads drop a bit, and we're trying to get back up. So just for everyone's sake we need to try to keep some positivity before the year is out."
Despite having their fair share of bad luck along the way, season 2019 hasn’t come anywhere close to living up to Renault’s pre-season expectations.
Their signing of Ricciardo was expected to help cement their place at the top of the midfield, and even help them push into the three-way battle between Red Bull Racing, Mercedes and Ferrari.
Instead, Renault have largely been outperformed by engine customers McLaren, languishing fifth in the constructor’s standings.
Ricciardo and teammate Nico Hulkenberg are ninth and 10th in the drivers standings respectively.