‘Completely crap’: Ricciardo report rubbished
DANIEL Ricciardo is now a "full grown-up adult" after choosing to leave Red Bull for Renault according to team principal Cyril Abiteboul, who also rubbished claims about his new driver's reported salary.
The Australian suffered a catastrophic debut for his new team in Melbourne during the season opener after first failing to make it out of the second qualifying run and then only managing to keep his front wing for four seconds of the actual race before retiring after just 31 laps.
He was forced to frustratingly watch on for the rest of the race as his teammate Nico Hulkenberg picked up points after finishing seventh to steal an early march in what will be a grand tussle between them this season.
Hulkenberg has been at Renault since 2017 whereas Ricciardo had spent his whole career within Red Bull's system before leaving at the end of last season and Abiteboul has likened his situation to a teenager who has finally left the family home.
"That decision has made of him a full-grown up adult, like when you decide to leave the family's house and be capable of living and accomplishing yourself as an individual," Abiteboul said.
"I think that sort of statement on his helmet (stop being them), that's very clear what's going on there.
"We are trying to create an environment at the same time that's relaxed, fun, warm, but very professional and focused and I think he likes that."
Ricciardo's reportedly huge wage hike after his move to Renault has been well documented, with only Mercedes' five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's four-time winner Sebastian Vettel earning more.
But Abiteboul reiterated that Ricciardo's main motivation for joining Renault was to help the French constructor grow within F1, rather than a purely financial one, adding reports of his $49 million-a-year salary are "completely crap".
"We have not tried to be silly about that, all the speculation about his salary are completely crap and I really want to take that away," Abiteboul said.
"He's clearly not here for the money, I mean it's no different to what he would have received at Red Bull or anywhere else. That's not the driving force behind his decision.
"Renault is a factory team. It's a very big car maker; 40 years of very successful history in the sport.
"So having a responsibility in contributing to that, I think he liked, was up for the challenge.
"I think what we've done during those meetings was simply be honest and treating him like an adult, like a grown up that obviously he is."
Ricciardo will be looking to make a better second impression for Renault this weekend at the Bahrain Grand Prix, which is live on FOX SPORTS 506.