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Freezing out Daniel Ricciardo would make 'no sense'

Renault boss, Cyril Abiteboul, has said Daniel Ricciardo will still be involved in the car’s development process even though he is moving to rivals McLaren.

The Aussie will be leaving the Enstone team following a two-year spell after deciding to replace the Ferrari-bound Carlos Sainz at McLaren for the 2021 season.

But that imminent move does not mean Ricciardo will be completely frozen out by Renault when it comes to developing the R.S.20, which will be very similar to its successor next year as most parts are staying the same until the regulations overhaul finally kicks in for 2022.

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“It would make absolutely no sense, and Daniel will be fully involved in the development process of the car also, because the car is more-or-less frozen between this year and next year,” Abiteboul said during a conference call, quoted by GPFans.

“Also McLaren will have to use all their tokens on pure chassis-engine integration, so [there will be] no performance development there.

“That will give us the opportunity to work extremely normally with Daniel.

“Obviously, he won’t be exposed to 2022, but frankly we would not do that anyway, becuse it’s still a bit far away from a driver perspective.”

Abiteboul went on to say that he feels confident about a Renault resurgence in 2020 after taking a backward step in 2019 and also wants someone with the same attributes as Ricciardo when it comes to replacing the Aussie for next season.

“As Daniel has said, we have a mission, we are on a mission. We have some frustration with last year, how we did, and I really believe that we can do better this year,” he added.

“We certainly have a car that should allow us to do better. That is the focus on here and now.

“What I can say is, Daniel is a great driver and a great personality, and that will be the profile for anyone who comes next, but right now, we’re focusing on what we need to do.”

Ricciardo, meanwhile, is not feeling any awkwardness as his time with Renault starts to come to an end.

“From my side it’s like, OK, there’s still a ton of people within this organisation who are really happy to have me here and who are excited to see me drive a black and yellow race car,” Ricciardo said via Fox Sports in Australia.

“So obviously again, I’ll do it for myself because I want to compete and race but I still want to give back to them everything I signed up for.”

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Ricciardo: 'Less to lose as far as risk and reward'

Facing a shortened 2020 championship, Daniel Ricciardo reckons the midfield runners will be going for it as they have “less to lose as far as risk and reward” goes.

This year’s championship is, at least today, only eight races long.

It starts in July with the Austrian Grand Prix with the last confirmed race September’s Italian Grand Prix.

F1 chiefs are expected to add more events and could yet increase the number of races to 13 or even 15.

Either though is still less than the initial 22-race calendar that was scheduled for 2020.

Ricciardo says the shortened calendar could see F1’s midfield go all out from the get-go.

“The approach is just go and get some movement early [in the season],” the Renault driver told Sky Sports F1.

“I think as well, [for] us in the midfield, there’s a bit less to lose as far as risk and reward.

“I think we will take chances and hopefully come off with a few big results, whether it’s eight races, 12, 15 – who knows how many we will get.”

He added that Renault’s stats from pre-season testing has the midfield separated by just a tenth meaning the racing could be extremely close.

“I remember after we had the analysis of where we thought the field is and the spread from top to bottom, and the midfield, at least from our predictions, was like all within a tenth,” Ricciardo said.

“That’s what we took away from testing. I think there’s going to be four or five teams within a very, very small margin.

“I would like to say we have closed the gap to the top, but of course the likes of like Mercedes are still going to be pretty tricky to overcome, at least early in the season.

“The midfield stuff, Racing Point, McLaren and all the other teams in there, it’s going to be tight.

“I think we’re going to be somewhere there, but it’s really a bit of a flip of a coin at this moment in time as to who is going to come out on top.”

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Daniel Ricciardo ready to axe the 'hugging'

Daniel Ricciardo will reluctantly abandon the “hugging” when the 2020 season starts to stick to the safety procedures.

The new-look Formula 1 will certainly be a big change from what we are accustomed to. There will be no podium ceremonies or interactions between teams for example.

Minimising contact which could spread COVID-19 is vital not only in Formula 1, but also every day life, so Ricciardo admits he will have to find news ways of embrace this year and pause the “hugging”.

As quoted by Reuters, he said: “I’m a hugger. I like hugging people. So that’s going to change.

“I’ve got to keep my distance. We’re going to find some new ways to embrace each other, especially after a good result. But obviously we’re going to do what we can to keep this thing away and keep it out of the paddock.

“So no hugging. No hugging for now.”

Ricciardo also revealed that he is taking no risks at home with the season-opener in Austria now only a week away.

That includes cleaning the packages of items he has bought from the supermarket, but he certainly doesn’t see it as time wasted.

“Coming back from the supermarket and actually cleaning the packages that are bought before putting them away. It’s just taking those extra steps that seem certainly necessary for now,” he said.

Ricciardo’s team-mate Esteban Ocon also sees no reason to take any risks and in fact is taking very similar precautions to Ricciardo.

“We’ve been waiting so long to get back, it would be a shame and dangerous also for all of us to risk anything,” he explained.

“I’m changing everything. There’s not one single thing that I do the same in my life nowadays, when I travel or as soon as I go out to get some food in the supermarket or anything.

“It would be crazy to have waited so long and prepared that much and arrive and be positive at the test… so I’m definitely massively careful.”

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