Daniel Ricciardo says he doesn’t have any assumptions about how his relationship with new team-mate Esteban Ocon will work out, with him set to take a “fresh approach” to the dynamic.
Before the end of the 2019 campaign, Renault announced Nico Hulkenberg would be leaving the team to be replaced by Ocon, who was allowed to sever his long-standing connection with Mercedes.
Ocon was previously with Force India between 2017 and 2018, and during that time he regularly butted heads with older team-mate Sergio Perez, with them even clashing during races in Azerbaijan and Belgium.
Ricciardo says the Frenchman’s history has not given him preconceived ideas about how well he will get on with his new partner.
“I'm definitely coming into it with a fresh approach and I don't want to lay any rules down from day one, because I think already that will create a tension in itself,” he said. “'Oh so you're anticipating something'.
“His relationship with Perez, obviously they came to blows a few times and it's a little bit like when I joined Red Bull you know Mark [Webber] and [Sebastian] Vettel came to blows a few times so a lot of people were like, are you going to have blows from Vettel?
“But the way I saw it was: ‘Mark and Vettel have their own relationship. That's not my relationship so I need to establish something with him. It's a bit like Perez and Ocon and me and Ocon.
“Maybe he had his things in the past, even with Max [Verstappen, when they collided in Brazil], but I need to create something for myself with him. So I'm not going to come in with any kind of ideas or hesitations.
“I’m prepared for competition, but I'm not prepared for fun and games. If down the track fun and games appear then I'll deal with it at the time but I think I'm certainly coming in with an open mind and positivity, as opposed to, ‘oh ****, when's he going to blow up?’ I'm not thinking like that.”
Ricciardo is one of a few major drivers, including Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, whose contracts expire at the end of the 2020 season, meaning he will be free to speak to other teams ahead of the widespread regulation changes being implemented for the 2021 F1 campaign.
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