F1 News: Daniel Ricciardo's Renault move worries Mark Webber
Former Red Bull driver Mark Webber is a little concerned about fellow Aussie Daniel Ricciardo’s chances next season with the Renault factory team. Webber is of the opinion that Renault is one of the constructors who will just be making up the numbers and not be competitive enough.
Webber claims he has even told Ricciardo about his doubts to his face. He has told Macquarie Sports Radio that he voiced his concern to Daniel in a tête-à-tête himself..
“I think we’re all a bit concerned about it. I’ve had the odd dinner with Daniel. He knows where my position is on this - it hasn’t changed. I would have loved him to stay at Red Bull. To get the results that Red Bull are going to get next year is going to be challenging for him to say the least.”
Webber, whom Ricciardo replaced at Red Bull in 2014, expects his countryman to taste success with Renault but only in 2020. Ricciardo decided for newer pastures after a season plagued with rampant reliability issues which saw him notch up eight DNFs. A season that started off with great promise wilted owing to no fault of his own, finishing sixth in the driver’s championships. His move to Renault means he will be teaming up Nico Hulkenberg who is on his last year of the contract with the French side.
While Ricciardo is optimistic of his new team’s chances of making a splash next year and catching the lead trio of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, Webber is concerned about the news coming from the Enstone constructor.
“Renault ... want budget caps, head count caps, they want all sort of decreases in salaries across the board to get the parity of the sport up there. I think when you’ve just arrived there as a driver, and you have a team that’s giving that sort of position, that’s a concern.”
Meanwhile, since Ricciardo has only signed a two-year deal with Renault, he will be in a position to jump seats as constructors will be looking to have fresh line-ups for 2021 when the new set of regulations come into place. His move can, in fact, be seen as a sideways move and not a downgrade as everyone is expecting it to be. While Webber's concern for a friend is appreciable, no one really knows how the grid will be lining up in 2019.
Lest we forget, Renault, with the same engines as Red Bull had none of the reliability issues. It might just boil down to who gets higher power through their engines- Renault or Honda. If it is Renault, the factory team might find themselves regularly on the podium next year itself.