Daniel Ricciardo says he accepts that the Renault F1 Team project will take time to reach the level of Formula 1‘s top three teams.
Ricciardo left Red Bull Racing after five seasons with the team and 10 with the Red Bull driver programme in order to search for a maiden world championship title.
Despite rumoured interest from leaders Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport and Scuderia Ferrari, Ricciardo opted to join Renault as it looks to return to its championship winning days of 2005 and ’06 following its reformation as a works team for the 2016 season.
Renault has made tangible process year-by-year and took the coveted fourth place finish in the Constructors’ Championship in 2018, albeit 297 points behind third-placed Red Bull.
The Australian said that his early experiences with Renault have been positive and expects further progression to be over the course of 2019.
“My first impressions, on a whole, have been positive and we’ll continue to learn more throughout these early races,” Ricciardo said.
“It’s going to take some time to get used to everything, but that’s not unexpected.
“We’re realistic in our approach and we have work to do, but we have a decent platform to build on now and we always strive for better.
“We’ve found some things during testing which we’ll dissect and see what we want to take forward, but our bigger steps will come during the next few months.”
Renault enjoyed an encouraging winter testing period at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, despite managing director Cyril Abiteboul‘s fears that the R.S.19 would be late to the track following a longer lead time than first expected.
Renault Sport has rebuilt its power unit for 2019 following concerns that the marque had underestimated the development potential of the V6 turbo hybrid regulations and faced being overtaken by Honda, who had previously lagged well behind all three rivalling manufacturers.
Ricciardo recorded 452 laps with minimal troubles, while team-mate Nico Hülkenberg added an extra 509 laps to the overall total.
Ricciardo, who turns 30 in July, admitted that he has been excited over starting his Renault career at his home race in Australia, and wants to put an end to the winter speculation over relative car performance.
“It’s an exciting thought that my first race for Renault is my home Grand Prix,” he added.
“There’s always so much hype at the start of the F1 season, and this has been amplified by me joining a new team.
“I’ve had this date circled since I announced I’d be signing with Renault and I’m looking forward to getting race week started.
“It’s been a long winter with a lot of theories and speculation going around, but the race track is where we settle all that.
“We had a good winter test, I’m growing happier every time I step into the car and the first race will be especially exciting.”