But so far, his return hasn’t gone as planned.
When Estaban Ocon secured the Renault seat alongside Daniel Ricciardo for 2020, it was justifiably hailed as the return of a promising rising star who never deserved to be off the grand prix grid.
Ocon has only outqualified Ricciardo once, in the wet qualifying session for the Styrian Grand Prix where he drove superbly and was fifth fastest having been on course for third before a big moment in the penultimate corner, and finished ahead only in the second Silverstone race after getting ahead when the Australian spun.
But there were encouraging signs. It’s important to factor in how well Ricciardo is driving and the fact he’s a formidable team-mate with a year’s headstart on Ocon at Renault.
While the two have ostensibly similar driving styles, Ricciardo is hugely accomplished at keeping the minimum speed high in the corners, an area where Ocon has often struggled to match him despite also favouring a relatively smooth style that aims to carry speed into the corner.
After his initial struggles on the brakes and at corner entry at Renault, Ricciardo has refined his approach and the car and has tremendous dynamic control over the car at entry.
This is something Ocon has been working on with genuine signs of progress at Mugello as he gets more at ease with the feel of the Renault.
Daniel Ricciardo showed real intent while driving for Renault this season. The French marquee have improved in terms of technology, and Ricciardo is having the share of the dividend.
He points out that Esteban Ocon is making some real progress as well. However, he is way behind Ricciardo and needs to cover a long lap before he comes on the equal footing.
“He has become even stronger this year. Because the car has got better and the cooperation with the engineers has improved. The rear of the car has become more stable and that gives Daniel more confidence.
“Esteban is slowly coming back after a one-year break. But he is not as far away from Daniel as it might seem. He has to accept that Daniel is a real benchmark and he has to set himself realistic goals.
“Okay, he made a mistake in qualifying at Mugello. But I forgive him for that. It shows me that he is attacking, that he wants more. I prefer that to a driver who simply accepts the status quo and the hierarchy in the team.
Ricciardo is all set to leave Renault come 2021 Joining Lando Norris in McLaren, Ricciardo will be replacing Carlos Sainz who is on his way to Ferrari. Renault will be racing under the Alpine name from 2021, and new opportunities await the team.
Cyril Abiteboul and CEO Luca de Meo are working efficiently to improve Renault’s performance. Renault has been showing some strong racing this season itself and with higher hopes and expectations and a new mission in hand, they are hopeful of contending for the Championship from the next season.
ESTEBAN OCON NOT ON DANIEL RICCIARDO’S LEVEL IN RENAULT ESTEBAN OCON NOT ON DANIEL RICCIARDO’S LEVEL IN RENAULT
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