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Prost surprised by Ricciardo’s move, but ‘he will push Renault’

Renault special advisor Alain Prost admits he was just as surprised as everyone when Daniel Ricciardo accepted the French team’s offer to join its ranks from 2019.

After a lengthy period of reflection and countless hours of weighing up his options for the future, Ricciardo decided to end his relationship with Red Bull and undertake a bold new challenge with Renault.

As a party to the Aussie’s preliminary talks with the manufacturer, Prost was hoping for a positive outcome but wasn’t convinced it would come to pass.

“When we talked to Daniel, it was a very frank discussion,” Prost told F1’s Tom Clarkson in the latest episode of his Beyond the Grid podcast series.

“He knows everything, he has seen everything – and he knows he can not be a world champion next year. We are going to be better for sure, but it’s going to take time.

    Ricciardo outlook for 2019 boosted by Spec-C performance

“We were a bit surprised when he said ‘yes I want to come’. He’s going to allow us to push the team to become even better and better all the time.

“It’s a little bit more pressure on the team because of him. But at the end, it’s positive pressure.”

Ricciardo’s two-year commitment will indeed spur on Renault, and Prost has no doubts about the positive impact of the seven-time Grand Prix winner’s expertise.

“What Daniel can bring is – obviously the first thing is himself,” explains the ‘Professor’.

“He’s a driver that has won races, and he has been so competitive in the last few years. He’s a very nice personality which is very important for the team – and he’s also coming from a winning team.

“As an old driver, you can see that when you’re in a top team and an average team, there are a lot of small differences that can obviously make the difference in competitivity.

“A driver like him can help. We need to put everything we can all together to become a top team and he is part of that.”

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Prost insists that Ricciardo’s charismatic and outgoing personality will also be valuable to Renault, but the four-time world champion is equally impressed by his on-track skills, especially in the overtaking department.

“The marketing side, he’s good value. He’s a funny guy. If you talk about Daniel inside Formula 1, outside Formula 1, you never have controversy.

“For me, he is one of the best drivers to overtake people. He’s very competitive. He has had more points than his team mates very often, like Max (Verstappen) who is considered one of the best. He’s a top guy,” adds Prost.

“In a team like Renault, it’s a big team with a big factory, the Renault family has a long history in Formula 1 – but it’s also a big company. You need to have a good ambience.

“It’s very difficult to support the pressure of this. You need to have two good drivers working well together, without any problems – and I’m sure with Daniel and Nico it’s going to be a good team.”

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