‘Clown’ Ricciardo let Renault down
Dutch F1 commentator Olav Mol has taken aim at Daniel Ricciardo, calling him a "clown" and criticising him for failing to deliver in his first season with Renault.
The Aussie finished ninth in the drivers' standings this year after quitting Red Bull at the end of 2018 as Renault failed in its bid to establish itself as the leader of the midfield pack behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Ricciardo's former team.
Renault was fifth in the constructors' championship, a healthy 54 points behind McLaren, and narrowly held off a challenge from Toro Rosso, who was six points behind the French outfit in sixth.
While the Enstone-based team was never going to challenge the sport's Big Three - a fact of life Ricciardo accepted before switching sides this season - the start of the year in particular was littered with mechanical issues and the overall package wasn't as competitive as hoped.
Ricciardo never made it onto the podium and Mol said the 30-year-old, despite not having the same resources as some of his rivals, still underperformed in the yellow and black.
"Wanting to be the clown of the paddock is not good enough," Mol told Dutch publication Formule 1. "He has not improved.
"Ricciardo is incredibly nice, but on the job? In Brazil (where Ricciardo started 11th on the grid and finished sixth) he came from the back to the front, otherwise I have not seen enough 'real Ricciardo moments'. And I have not seen him make Renault better.
"Other than his breakthrough in the Brazilian GP, he hasn't shown much throughout the season.
"He should be less cheerful and hit the table with his fists more often."
While 2019 didn't go to plan, Ricciardo is hopeful there are sunnier times ahead for Renault. After he crossed the line 11th in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Ricciardo offered a message of support to the team watching on from the garage.
"Thank you guys. I really mean it but we will get better next year, a lot better. I really think we will. So let's get it," he said over the team radio.
He firmly believes Renault has the ingredients to make meaningful strides forward next year and at least make good on its pre-season goal of being the midfield leader.
"Putting it bluntly I'm not really a speech maker. I know I like to talk a lot but I'm not gonna say, 'We'll do better next year boys' if I really don't think we will," Ricciardo told Motorsport.com recently.
"I'm not just going to massage their shoulders and tell them what they want to hear."
Ricciardo is confident he can elevate his performance and is feeling good about improvements made to the car that will benefit him and incoming teammate Esteban Ocon, who is replacing Nico Hulkenberg.
"Even in myself I know I'll get better, so that's one variable that I know is going to change for the better. So even that alone will improve," Ricciardo said.
"But there are a lot of other things. Speaking with the aero guys, the philosophy of how we've designed the car, and especially the front of the car this year, I think they're pretty confident that that was maybe not the best way to go, looking at some other teams, in order to develop the car.
"We have a bit in hand and we certainly have the resources and the budget to do so. So, yeah, it's optimism."