Daniel Ricciardo feels he is operating close to his peak in the Renault now.  Picture: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Daniel Ricciardo feels he is operating close to his peak in the Renault now. Picture: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Ricciardo makes bold breakthrough prediction

DANIEL Ricciardo believes he has made a breakthrough with Renault's F1 car, as the team look to take their own step forward in forthcoming races.

Ricciardo comes into this weekend's Canadian GP - the scene of his maiden F1 victory five years ago - on the back of an encouraging Monaco, where he qualified in the top seven for the first time with Renault and finished in the points.

"In winter testing I thought that I got up to speed well, and that was that, but getting that last 5 per cent, that was going to take time," the Australian told reporters.

"But I'd like to say I'm in that window now, whereas I wasn't in the first few weekends."

After five seasons racing for Red Bull, Ricciardo admits he has had to steadily adapt his driving style to a completely different car.

"Now I'm actually comfortable and I'm already starting to drive a little differently compared to what I was (doing) last year in some areas," the Australian said.

"Even the way you brake into a corner or the way you pick up the throttle based on the characteristics (of the car), I feel I've already adopted new habits. Now it does (feel natural)."

Underlining his progress, Ricciardo has not been out-qualified by teammate Nico Hulkenberg since the season-opener in Australia.

"Nico came out strong at the start of the season and out-qualified me in the first race," said Ricciardo. "He only had one run in Q2 and I had two chances and didn't get him. But since then I've been able to put it together."

Ricciardo seems like a glass-half-full type of guy.
Ricciardo seems like a glass-half-full type of guy.

Having set the target on the eve of the campaign of closing the gap to F1's leading three teams, Renault's start to 2019 has been beset by disappointments. The works team are only eighth in the standings after six rounds.

But with their engine now again able to run at full power after reliability improvements, Ricciardo says Montreal's high-speed track will be the package's biggest test yet in F1's competitive power stakes.

"This will certainly be a good test for it. We know we have definitely made progress through the year," Ricciardo said.

"We were encouraged by Monaco and even Barcelona, but this will be the best test yet. I'm confident we will be alright, but what does 'alright' mean? Obviously a Q3 car, but we'll see how that goes."

He added: "I don't know whether we're going to push it more than we did in Monaco, but already having the reliability in a better place we've already been able to squeeze a bit more out of it."

Renault confirmed recently the French GP in a fortnight's time would be the venue for their next big car upgrade.

Speaking about his current mood, Ricciardo said: "I'm motivated - I'm very, very motivated. I want to get back on the podium.

"I know we're still not there but if I keep this level of drive and hunger then it's just going to come sooner rather than later."

This article originally appeared on Sky Sports and was reproduced with permission.

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