Frustration as Ricciardo punches out

DANIEL Ricciardo thinks he can become F1 world champion at Renault in the 2021 season.

Ricciardo told Spanish publication AS: “Now, starting this next journey, realistically I would say 2021, I want to be world champion that year.”

He also detailed what he is expecting from himself and Renault next season.

“I want to prove to myself and to other people that it was the right decision,” he said. “I guess to prove some people wrong.

“And just grow with the team and to feel the progress, to be part of that, and to feel like their investment in me was worthwhile.”

Since making the announcement in early August he would be leaving Red Bull to join Renault, Ricciardo’s troubles have reached a new level.

There have been six races since he announced his departure from the Milton Keynes outfit and in that time he’s failed to finish half of them.

Normally calm and collected, the frustration of the constant issues got the better of Ricciardo following another retirement during the US Grand Prix.

He retired on lap 10 of the race after an electrical failure, to record his seventh DNF of the year.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner revealed Ricciardo “put his fist through a wall” after the failure.

The constant failures with Ricciardo’s car, while teammate Max Verstappen shines, have led to speculation the team has given up on the Aussie.

But Horner was quick to point to the fact that last season, the shoe was on the other foot among the team.

“You can’t blame him, the frustration that is in him,” Horner said.

“What is ironic is that it is always on his car it seems. It was the other way around last year with Max.

“As Renault’s premier driver you wouldn’t expect these issues to be happening.

“From a team point of view, all we want to do is finish the year on a high with him and have the chance to celebrate the time he has been with us.

“But it is a bit unfortunate these things are still happening for him.

“He knows it is not the team’s issue, he knows it is nothing we have done and he cannot get his head around why it keeps happening to him.”

Last year Verstappen retired seven times, including three times in a row with oil pressure and engine problems.

But he’s had better luck than his Australian comrade in 2018, retiring just four times, and sits 45 points ahead of Ricciardo in the drivers’ standings.

Only three races remain on the 2018 F1 calendar before Ricciardo’s time with Red Bull comes to an end.

But in what is seen as possibly a spiteful move, Red Bull has blocked Ricciardo from taking part in the traditional Pirelli tyre tests once the season concludes.

The test, which follows the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, is  the only opportunity for drivers who are changing camps to gain on-track experience with their new teams before proper 2019 testing starts in February.

For those drivers making ‘friendly’ moves, such as Charles Leclerc to Ferrari, Pierre Gasly to Red Bull and George Russell to Williams, testing for their new teams is a no-brainer.

But Red Bull has turned down Renault’s request to make Ricciardo available.

“I’m not allowed to test,” he said. “I can’t drive for Red Bull and they won’t let me drive for Renault.

“So it is okay. I can have a holiday.”

Christian Horner said it was a question of Ricciardo fulfilling his contractual obligations.

“He’s under contract past that date, so he won’t be doing the test,” he said.

“There was a question, ‘Is he available?’ It’s very clear that he’s not, so it’s very simple. They just asked what his availability was, and he’s not available.

“He’s still got obligations to tidy up until the end of his contract.”

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