Ricciardo beams at being back in Melbourne with his new team Renault

Daniel Ricciardo beams at being back in Melbourne with his new team as Renault driver poses with his national flag ahead of Australian Grand Prix

  • Daniel Ricciardo is preparing for his first season in Formula One with Renault
  • He is back on home turf for the first race of the season in Melbourne this week
  • Australian posed with his country’s flag and appeared to be in high spirits
  • Ex-F1 champion Damon Hill says success, not money, was the reason for move

The opening race of the new Formula One season is always special, but for Australian Daniel Ricciardo there is an added excitement to the Melbourne weekend. 

Indeed, this year more than most as the 29-year-old returns home with a brand new team, following his switch from Red Bull to Renault.

Ricciardo is set for a special weekend in his native Australia, and he posed with the country’s flag on Tuesday ahead of the action beginning.

Daniel Ricciardo appeared to be delighted as he stood with the Australia flag in Melbourne

Daniel Ricciardo appeared to be delighted as he stood with the Australia flag in Melbourne

Ricciardo is on home soil preparing for his first race with new constructor Renault this week

Ricciardo is on home soil preparing for his first race with new constructor Renault this week

He will have a series of practice sessions on Thursday and Friday before the real drama begins with qualification on Saturday and the big race on Sunday.

All eyes will be on Ricciardo as he begins his tenure at Renault on a bumper new £37million-a-year contract.

That amount is the third-highest in F1 behind Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, and dwarfs that of old Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen, who is on £14m a year.

That said, British F1 legend Damon Hill believes money won’t have come into Ricciardo’s thinking when he decided to switch teams in the off-season.  

‘I think he has lots of self belief, and he is one of the loveliest characters in the sport,’ Hill told the Express. ‘He is a ray of sunshine. A lot of drivers go around with a big glum face.

‘He always has a massive grin on but deep down there is a burning desire to win and he knows that his clock is running.

Damon Hill believes money did not play a part in Ricciardo's close-season switch from Red Bull

Damon Hill believes money did not play a part in Ricciardo’s close-season switch from Red Bull

The 29-year-old Australian will be hoping for instant success with his new team this season

The 29-year-old Australian will be hoping for instant success with his new team this season

‘He is 29 years old and, if you like, might have felt the emphasis, the backing, has all gone to the younger guy in Max Verstappen – and he is not having it.

‘I think he is thinking: “I am not going to be parked up and I have one more chance at it.” You have got to keep putting yourself forward and giving yourself the option of being No. 1. 

‘You don’t want to be marginalised in this sport and be happy at No. 2 because that wouldn’t sit well with Daniel Ricciardo. ‘He would hate himself forever if he accepted that.’

Hill believes that Ricciardo wanted to get out of the shadow of Max Verstappen at Red Bull

Hill believes that Ricciardo wanted to get out of the shadow of Max Verstappen at Red Bull

Ricciardo is the main man at Renault and their 2019 hopes will be pinned on the Australian

Ricciardo is the main man at Renault and their 2019 hopes will be pinned on the Australian

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