Daniel Ricciardo is “curious” – rather than apprehensive – to see how his Renault handles itself around the Monaco circuit after growing accustomed to having such a receptive Red Bull in the principality.
The Australian has traditionally been one of the favourites going into the Monaco weekend, famously winning there last year after, most infamously, being robbed of his 2016 victory after an atrocious pitstop while leading.
He also finished third twice – making it four podium finishes in total – as well as two pole positions, but he will have to get used to battling further back again this year.
However, while Ricciardo accepts it will be far more difficult with Renault, he believes Monaco is a driver’s track, where the man in the cockpit can make far more of a difference than usual.
“I’m actually really curious to go to Monaco, I’m curious to see how it all feels,” he said. “I’m excited to go back there because I’ve always loved it.
“I think of Kubica putting it on P2 a few years ago, Maldonado, he was always a bit of a Monaco beast at getting the car at the time a bit further up.
“I’m definitely optimistic that if I can drive the track the way I want to drive it then I can get the car further up than maybe it might be on a normal track. Whether further up means the top six or top five, we’ll see. I’m excited.”
The Azerbaijan Grand Prix, where both Renaults failed to finish, is seen as a small indicator of how cars will perform in Monaco, but Ricciardo insists it is all about confidence this weekend.
“To be honest, not really,” he added when asked about Baku’s influence.
“I think we run quite low downforce and even a bit stiffer around Baku. Monaco is quite unique, but I think the biggest thing is confidence.
“On Thursday, all I’ll want to do is get out of myself to be confident with the car and have the confidence to tackle the kerbs and brake where I want to brake. I think, if I can get that, then I’ll be able to do something.”