Former Grand Prix driver David Coulthard believes that Daniel Ricciardo belongs on the list of F1's current top drivers. The Australian has endured a difficult season, picking up two victories that remain his only podiums from the entire year.
Ricciardo has suffered from poor reliability throughout 2018, retiring from more races than any other driver on the grid. This weekend in Abu Dhabi, the former Toro Rosso man will compete in his last race with Red Bull before moving to Renault.
And Coulthard thinks that Ricciardo will enjoy success with the Enstone team going forward: "When you produce a film, a key to success is choosing the right actor for the right role," he said. "Here you have Lewis Hamilton as superstar, Max [Verstappen] with his offensive driving style and Sebastian Vettel with his German winning mentality.
"Ricciardo belongs in that list. The fact that someone like Fernando Alonso could not play a leading role in a non-competitive car in recent years was bad for the sport, but it will undoubtedly be better for Daniel at Renault.”
Renault rejoined the sport in 2016 and has been growing ever since. It is on the brink of securing fourth in the constructor's championship, as it currently boasts a 22 point gap to Haas. Coulthard believes that the team's growth is evident through Ricciardo's signing.
"It is a real factory team and is investing heavily,” the former McLaren and Red Bull driver stated. “That they have captured Daniel is proof of that. That was not a bargain and a declaration of intent of what Renault wants.
“What the millions for Ricciardo and the team for Renault will yield will become clear in 2019, a year with new changes to the rules. People dismiss them as small but something can really happen," he added.
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing