Ricciardo "legacy" integral to Renault rebirth as Alpine
Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul has praised McLaren-bound driver Daniel Ricciardo as being "instrumental" to the team's improved performance across the past two years and "integral" to its impending rebirth as Alpine.
When joining Renault ahead of the 2019 season, Ricciardo said at the time: "Each time Renault has been in the sport they eventually won. I hope to be able to help them in this journey and contribute on and off track."
While he may not have returned Renault to the very top, Ricciardo was able to steer the manufacturer to its first podium since Nick Heidfeld's third-place finish in the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix.
Describing the Australian as a team leader, Abiteboul said: "When the team signed Daniel in 2018, it clearly brought a lot of attention and some raised eyebrows in the paddock.
"It marked a statement of intent, coupled with some pressure from signing a multiple grand prix winner.
"The objectives after strong progress that year were very clear. While 2019 was disappointing from an overall championship perspective, there were memorable moments like in Canada and Italy.
"While those moments were fewer than we’d have liked, having a driver of Daniel’s ability brought clear and required changes to the team and his influence went beyond just driving the car.
"He has clearly been instrumental to the changes that we made after 2019."
Renault scored just 91 points that year in finishing fifth in the constructors' standings. Although that position remained unchanged this year, the team virtually doubled that tally by collecting 181.
Conceding both he and Ricciardo knew "it would take a bit of time" for Renault to become front-running challengers, Abiteboul added the relationship had delivered the result he had hoped for at the start of 2019, and has provided a platform on which to build when the team rebrands as Alpine next year.
He added: "He made an impact and we are so different today to what we were two years and a half ago when we decided to form this partnership, so, in that respect, frankly, it has delivered.
"This season, Daniel has been admirable in pushing on and his professionalism has been nothing short of exceptional, also after the announcement of his departure for next season.
"The moment in Germany with the first podium was a high point and signalled an important milestone in the team’s journey, which we will build upon.
"In this new phase as we transition from Renault to Alpine, the legacy left by Daniel will remain an integral part of our foundation.
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