Surprise Ricciardo claims dent Red Bull
Daniel Ricciardo is definitely a glass half-full kind of guy.
The Aussie F1 star has just completed his worst season since 2013 but as only he can, is still managing to find the positives from what most would say was a disappointing debut campaign with Renault.
Ricciardo finished ninth in the drivers' standings on 54 points - a sizeable 38 points behind eighth-placed Alexander Albon - as Renault landed fifth in the constructors' championship, unable to make good on a pre-season goal to lead the midfield pack.
The West Australian started the year with two retirements because of mechanical issues as life with the French outfit started in ominous fashion and people were questioning his wisdom of quitting Red Bull at the end of 2018.
But even though Ricciardo finished sixth in his final year with the energy drink team and scored more than three times as many points as he did with Renault this season, the Honey Badger is adamant 2019 wasn't nearly as frustrating as last year.
Car upgrades didn't give Renault the boost it hoped for, it never challenged the Big Three of Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari and the Enstone-based team only narrowly avoided slipping down to sixth in the constructors' standings when results in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix went its way. But Ricciardo says his final season with Red Bull was still a much worse experience than his run with Renault.
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"Definitely no more frustrating than last year," Ricciardo said on the Beyond the Grid podcast when asked how tough it was enduring a run of poor results in the yellow and black.
"You know, 2018 was frustrating - that was my most frustrating year I would say because it started so promising and then just never really got going for the most part after that.
"I felt like most of the time it was things out of my control and that was the most frustrating.
"You know, if it was me making 90 per cent of the mistakes then I could address that and look in the mirror and find out what to do better but - I'm not saying I'm perfect, but I felt more times than not it was out of my control and that was the frustration (last year).
"This year, yeah we haven't had great results all the time and we've had a lot of ups and downs again but I think it was just my expectation of this year was not as high as what it would have been last year with Red Bull so I didn't really set any, 'OK, if we're not fifth by X race then I'm going to be feeling like this'. I jut rolled with it.
"I knew there was always going to be work to do so I didn't let the result get the better of me."
It's hardly a great reflection on Red Bull that Ricciardo feels more satisfied and optimistic with a team whose performances have been far less impressive.
In the same podcast, Ricciardo revealed how a lack of support from Red Bull in his battles with teammate Max Verstappen and not being valued highly enough pushed him to quit. And even though it must have been tough watching Verstappen finish third in the drivers' championship this season while he floundered in the midfield, Ricciardo clearly has no regrets about switching sides.
Surprisingly, his toughest days with Renault have given Ricciardo the most hope and even when things were going badly, he still felt less bitter than he did in his final days with Red Bull.
Verstappen won this year's Austrian Grand Prix while Ricciardo and colleague Nico Hulkenberg were 12th and 13th respectively, and despite it being one of Renault's worst race weekends of the year, the Australian's optimism still shone through.
Asked how much this season tested his resolve mentally, Ricciardo replied: "Not much, not much at all because … the bad days were my most encouraging days in terms of how I felt about the sport and how I felt about myself and what I want to get.
"True story, Austria was one of our worst weekends of the year and this is towards the end of the race, I was out of the points, even with a safety car our race wasn't changing much so I had a bit of time to think inside the helmet - which you can do.
"I was driving around and I was actually saying, 'This isn't fun, this race is not fun for me right now'. But instead of being like, 'This isn't fun, I want to quit and walk away cos this sucks', I was like, 'I don't belong here and I don't want to be running around 14th and I want to get back to the front and I believe I can and I believe we can be better'.
"It fuelled my motivation. Yeah I was frustrated and angry, but it fuelled a lot of positivity from it. It just made me want to get back to the front quicker and that hunger was apparent more than ever during that race.
"It was a good thing."