The Sky Sports F1 pundits have praised Daniel Ricciardo after another 2020 epic podium at the Emilia-Romagna GP, but admit he may be feeling “strange” as he prepares to leave an improving Renault team.
Ricciardo, after 31 races without a podium at Renault, now has two in the last three Grands Prix after making the most of Max Verstappen’s Imola crash to finish behind the Mercedes on Sunday – while the result also lifted his team into an impressive third in the standings.
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It’s been a season of immense progress for Ricciardo and Renault, but the Australian is joining McLaren at the end of it – a decision he made prior to 2020’s first race. While McLaren are only one point behind Renault in the standings and have as many podiums this year, the French team have stolen a march on their rivals with their recent form and appear the midfield team to beat heading into the final four races.
And while Ricciardo, fourth in the championship, insists there are no regrets, the Sky F1 team say it’s a pity the partnership is being broken up given his performances, and their belief that Renault are “on the up”.
Daniel Ricciardo was surprised that Lewis Hamilton agreed to share a shoey with him during the podium celebrations!
“He’s been great – very relaxed, and he goes out there and delivers,” said Paul Di Resta. “I feel he’s in a strange place because when you’re in Parc Ferme and he’s got those podiums, it’s the start of something that I think was going to go quite far from a leadership point of view for Daniel.
“But of course he’s leaving there and going to McLaren because he thought that was the best chance before the season had started. But Renault are on the up. It was an ambitious ask to think they can finish third as a constructor this year, but they’re in a great place to try and achieve it.”
Johnny Herbert agreed: “It is a shame in many respects. They’re on the up, he would have been the perfect man, and his maturity is fantastic. Yeah, we have that laughing and joking with him, but it’s ability to get the best out of the team and the best out of the car.
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“It’s a shame that we’re maybe not going to see the same thing next year. I hope McLaren are going to give him the car that he needs, but Renault do look very strong for the future.”
Ricciardo is replacing Carlos Sainz at McLaren, with the Spaniard heading to Ferrari in place of Sebastian Vettel, while Fernando Alonso is re-joining Renault, where he won his two F1 titles in 2005 and 2006.
Ricciardo’s surprise as Hamilton joins shoey celebration
Ricciardo forgot to perform his trademark ‘shoey’ celebration – when he drinks champagne out of his race-worn shoe – when finishing third at the Eifel GP, but didn’t make the same mistake this time.
And he was even joined for a drink by race-winner Lewis Hamilton…
“I was about to drink a beautiful fresh one and I heard Lewis saying, ‘take your other shoe off’ and I was like, no [way]!” Ricciardo told Sky F1.
Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo shared a shoey during their podium celebrations at Imola!
“Because, I think it was three years ago, on the podium he goes, ‘I’ll never ever do that. I’ll never drink it. You can offer me, you can force me, I’ll never do it.’
“And he even asked for it today. It took me a surprise, but 2020 is a year of the strange.”
Hamilton did indeed insist he would never perform a shoey back in 2017, stating: “There is no racing achievement [that will get me to do a shoey], that is disgusting. I wouldn’t even drink sweat from my own shoe.
“We’ve got these hydraulic fluids going down there, they’re running at 300 degrees or something crazy, so it’s bleeding hot. My dad would call it ‘toe jam’ – he’s just drinking toe jam.”