Ricciardo says slow is the way to go
F1 is set for some radical changes in 2021 and Daniel Ricciardo has thrown his support behind anything that leads to more exciting racing - even if it means cars are going to slow down.
Last week F1 powerbrokers announced the sport will look a lot different in two seasons as it implements a raft of financial and technical changes designed to make for a more entertaining spectacle.
Planned tweaks include revised car aerodynamics, a spending cap for teams and a limit on how many upgrades outfits can introduce over the course of a race weekend.
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New regulations around front and rear-wing designs on cars will reduce the amount of downforce when running behind a rival, which will hopefully make it easier to overtake and encourage more wheel-to-wheel racing.
It's estimated these changes will make four-wheelers three-to-four seconds slower per lap but that's fine by Ricciardo if it helps level the playing field.
"I don't care, I don't mind (if the cars are slower)," Ricciardo said, per Motorsport Week. "One of the most fun years I had in F1 was 2014, and the cars then were eight seconds slower than now.
"As long as we are racing close and hard … anything that is going to be close is exiting.
"I'd rather have good racing than single file lap records. Then we might as well do time trials for the rest of our careers. So I'm OK with three seconds slower.
"Ideally, we'd keep going the same pace or even faster but have overtaking. We do want to go fast, don't get me wrong, but if we do have to choose then I'd take slower lap times with good racing than faster times with no race."
Recent seasons have been a two-horse race for the constructors' championship between Mercedes and Ferrari but the Silver Arrows have always stayed one step ahead, winning the past six titles and boasting the past six winners of the drivers' championship - Lewis Hamilton five times and Nico Rosberg once, in 2016.
Red Bull has staked its claim as the final member of the Big Three but is yet to taste trophy-winning success since 2013 world champion Sebastian Vettel drove it to glory.
The rest of the teams in the paddock battle for the "best of the rest" tag with few able to match the money or resources Mercedes and Ferrari can pour into their programs. That harsh reality can make the sport too predictable when fans know there's only a few genuine contenders to challenge for race wins and end-of-season honours.
Ricciardo suggested changes made before the 2017 season - which resulted in wider cars and fatter tyres - had a negative impact on raceability because "the tracks were not made wider but the cars were, so there is less overtaking.
"Having wider cars it is harder to find that clear air, so that alone for me, taking the downforce out of it, taking more track, means it is harder to follow.
"That was … maybe not the best thing to do. I don't want to say learn from our mistakes but we will learn moving forward."
Anything that lessens the gap between the top and middle-tier teams will be good news for Ricciardo, who has endured a frustrating debut season with Renault after quitting Red Bull at the end of 2018.
The French outfit was bullish about wanting to lead the midfield pack this year but is fifth in the constructors' standings with two races to go, 38 points of adrift of McLaren in fourth.
Although Ricciardo (9th in the drivers' standings) has outperformed teammate Nico Hulkenberg (12th), he hasn't made it to the podium in 2019 and has failed to finish five races, not to mention being disqualified from the Japanese Grand Prix for a technical breach after crossing the line sixth.
Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul said McLaren's superiority has been evident in qualifying but is hopeful things will improve with time.
"It is a fact that McLaren has a better car, a better chassis than we have," Abiteboul told Motorsport.com. "I am not ashamed of fighting against McLaren. They are still a fantastic team and a great name in F1.
"I think we just need to accept things take time, whether we like it or not. F1 is tough and indeed the fact is that we are getting a better and better understanding of the car and we are capable of improving the set-up, because there is no development of the car, it hasn't moved for a while."