Renault has admitted that it was surprised by how quickly it convinced Daniel Ricciardo to join the team. Ricciardo announced during the summer break that he would be leaving Red Bull at the end of the season, ending a 10-year partnership with the energy drink squad.
The Australian soon confirmed that he would be joining Renault on a two-year deal. Alain Prost, who acts as an advisor for the team and appeared in Formula 1's latest 'Beyond the Grid' podcast, stated that the team was taken aback by Ricciardo's sudden desire to join the resurging outfit.
"When we talked to Daniel, it was a very frank discussion," he said. "He knows everything, he has seen everything – and he knows he can not be a world champion next year. We are going to be better for sure, but it’s going to take time.
“We were a bit surprised when he said ‘yes I want to come’. He’s going to allow us to push the team to become even better and better all the time. It’s a little bit more pressure on the team because of him. But at the end, it’s positive pressure."
Ricciardo has proved himself to be one of the top drivers in the series after he joined Red Bull in 2014. Since gaining promotion from Toro Rosso, the 29-year-old has bagged 29 podiums, including seven victories.
He has also pulled off a series of unexpected, last-second overtakes on his fellow drivers, all the while expressing his upbeat personality off the track. Prost says that his marketing value will be beneficial to Renault, as well as his speed.
"What Daniel can bring is - obviously the first thing is himself," he said. "He’s a driver that has won races, and he has been so competitive in the last few years. He’s a very nice personality which is very important for the team – and he’s also coming from a winning team.
“As an old driver, you can see that when you’re in a top team and an average team, there are a lot of small differences that can obviously make the difference in competitivity," the four-time champion continued. "A driver like him can help. We need to put everything we can all together to become a top team and he is part of that.
“The marketing side, he’s good value. He’s a funny guy. If you talk about Daniel inside Formula 1, outside Formula 1, you never have controversy. For me, he is one of the best drivers to overtake people. He’s very competitive. He has had more points than his team mates very often, like Max (Verstappen) who is considered one of the best. He’s a top guy.
“In a team like Renault, it’s a big team with a big factory, the Renault family has a long history in Formula 1 - but it’s also a big company. You need to have a good ambience. It’s very difficult to support the pressure of this. You need to have two good drivers working well together, without any problems – and I’m sure with Daniel and Nico it’s going to be a good team,” Prost concluded.
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing