Ricciardo hits out at 'speculation' behind Renault move



Having looked nailed-on to remain at Red Bull as the 2018 summer break approached, Ricciardo stunned the F1 world by announcing that he was moving to midfield team Renault instead, meaning he'd break away from the Red Bull company who'd backed him since 2008.

Renault finished fourth past year, still a long way behind reigning champions Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, but with its engines winning four races in the back of the latter team's cars.

The move prompted conjecture the Australian is putting money before results, a claim Ricciardo vehemently denies.

"We are, to a certain degree, also paying a little bit the fact that we are much more integrated this year than before".

"Last year the progress in the championship was in general a success story, and I think it is fair to say that more progress in the championship will take a bit longer". The Renault boss admits that race wins are unlikely in 2019.

"I think in the short-term I can't see anyone beating Mercedes or maybe Ferrari in the next season", he said.

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Ricciardo will driver alongside Nico Hulkenberg this year having replaced McLaren-bound Carlos Sainz. I believe that we are not the only team to be in that situation. At the time it seemed like a step backwards, but the new regulations that came into force from 2014 turned Mercedes into the team to beat.

Renault may be forced to delay its planned shakedown of its RS19 on Saturday owing to the late completion of parts for the new vehicle.

The trajectory Abiteboul describes is an upward one; Renault climbed from ninth in 2016 to sixth in 2017, then fourth in 2018.

However, Ricciardo has been encouraged by his experiences in the Renault factory so far, and appreciates that the workers and engineers behind the scenes have been working tirelessly while the drivers have had time off.

"We are starting our campaign with the aim of continuing this momentum", said Renault's managing director Cyril Abiteboul at the team's 2019 launch on Tuesday at their Enstone headquarters in England.

"I always put pressure on myself and there's pressure to perform regardless of where we will end up finishing the race in Melbourne", he told Fox Sports.

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