Daniel Ricciardo secured yet another epic 2020 podium for Renault at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on the weekend but a number of pundits believe he may now be left with a “strange” feeling on his pre-season gamble to switch to McLaren.
The Aussie has landed two podiums in his last three races after benefitting most from former teammate Max Verstappen’s unlucky crash at Imola, while propelled him into the top three behind Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
That result put him into fourth in the driver standings and lifted Renault into third in the constructor standings in what has been a season of huge progress for both after a disappointing 2019.
Watch the 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship™ on KAYO. Every practice, qualifying session and race LIVE. New to Kayo? Get your free trial now & start streaming instantly >
However, Ricciardo will leave for McLaren at the end of the year, a decision he made prior to the current delayed season beginning.
McLaren is only one point behind Renault in the standings and also has two podiums this year but has fallen behind the French team recently, with the black and yellow the midfield car to beat at the moment.
How much of that is the Renault itself or just Ricciardo’s red-hot form is up for debate, given how much better he has been that his teammate Esteban Ocon this season, taking 55 more points than him – the biggest gap of any teammates outside of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari.
Ricciardo has insisted there are no regrets over his decision, but Sky F1’s experts believe it is sad to see the partnership being broken up with Renault now on such a positive trajectory.
“He’s been great – very relaxed, and he goes out there and delivers,” said Paul Di Resta. “I feel he’s in a strange place because when you’re in Parc Ferme and he’s got those podiums, it’s the start of something that I think was going to go quite far from a leadership point of view for Daniel.
Get all the latest F1 news, highlights and analysis delivered straight to your inbox with Fox Sports Sportmail. Sign up now!!!
“But of course he’s leaving there and going to McLaren because he thought that was the best chance before the season had started. But Renault are on the up. It was an ambitious ask to think they can finish third as a constructor this year, but they’re in a great place to try and achieve it.”
Johnny Herbert added: “It is a shame in many respects. They’re on the up, he would have been the perfect man, and his maturity is fantastic. Yeah, we have that laughing and joking with him, but it’s ability to get the best out of the team and the best out of the car.
“It’s a shame that we’re maybe not going to see the same thing next year. I hope McLaren are going to give him the car that he needs, but Renault do look very strong for the future.”