G’day to a new era! Daniel Ricciardo beams at being back in Melbourne with his new team Renault… as he promises more overtaking ahead of Australian Grand Prix season opener
- Daniel Ricciardo is preparing for his first season in Formula One with Renault
- He is back on home turf for the first race of the season in Melbourne this week
- Australian posed with his country’s flag and appeared to be in high spirits
- Ex-F1 champion Damon Hill says success, not money, was the reason for move
The opening race of the new Formula One season is always special, but for Australian Daniel Ricciardo there is an added excitement to the Melbourne weekend.
Indeed, this year more than most as the 29-year-old returns home with a brand new team, following his switch from Red Bull to Renault.
Ricciardo is set for a special weekend in his native Australia, and he posed with the country’s flag on Tuesday ahead of the action beginning.
Daniel Ricciardo appeared to be delighted as he stood with the Australia flag in Melbourne
Ricciardo is on home soil preparing for his first race with new constructor Renault this week
He will have a series of practice sessions on Thursday and Friday before the real drama begins with qualification on Saturday and the big race on Sunday.
Ricciardo is well-known for his long-range passing moves and, speaking this week, the Australian has insisted there will be more to come when the season gets underway.
‘You’ll probably see more of it,’ he said when asked about his overtaking ability by motorsport.com.
‘I guess the likelihood of starting on the front row, at least in the short-term, is slim. The fact that there will be more cars starting in front of me is higher, so more cars to get through.
‘You’ll probably see more of the Daniel Ricciardo that you’re used to. There’s no reason for me to hold back. Even more so if we aren’t fighting for podiums every weekend; it’s even more important for me to have that character on track to try and stay relevant and push the team towards the front.’
All eyes will be on the talented Australian as he begins his tenure at Renault on a bumper new £37million-a-year contract.
Damon Hill believes money did not play a part in Ricciardo’s close-season switch from Red Bull
The 29-year-old Australian will be hoping for instant success with his new team this season
That amount is the third-highest in F1 behind Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, and dwarfs that of old Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen, who is on £14m a year.
That said, British F1 legend Damon Hill believes money won’t have come into Ricciardo’s thinking when he decided to switch teams in the off-season.
‘I think he has lots of self belief, and he is one of the loveliest characters in the sport,’ Hill told the Express. ‘He is a ray of sunshine. A lot of drivers go around with a big glum face.
‘He always has a massive grin on but deep down there is a burning desire to win and he knows that his clock is running.
Hill believes that Ricciardo wanted to get out of the shadow of Max Verstappen at Red Bull
‘He is 29 years old and, if you like, might have felt the emphasis, the backing, has all gone to the younger guy in Max Verstappen – and he is not having it.
‘I think he is thinking: ‘I am not going to be parked up and I have one more chance at it.’ You have got to keep putting yourself forward and giving yourself the option of being No 1.
‘You don’t want to be marginalised in this sport and be happy at No 2 because that wouldn’t sit well with Daniel Ricciardo. He would hate himself forever if he accepted that.’
Ricciardo is the main man at Renault and their 2019 hopes will be pinned on the Australian