The Formula 1 season concluded in Abu Dhabi in late November, and one person who will be mightily relieved to see the back of 2018 is Daniel Ricciardo.
Despite a bright start to the year, the Aussie suffered a torrid second half of the season and retired in eight races as a result of poor reliability.
Ricciardo finished the season in sixth position in the driver standings, two places behind his Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen and trailing him by 79 points.
That significant points difference would suggest Verstappen outperformed Ricciardo, but the Aussie claims that gap wasn’t as large as it appears on first viewing.
“I am happy with how I’ve been this year and I certainly feel that the points and the qualifying tally don’t show the true picture,” Ricciardo told Motorsport. “I don’t want to take the credit away from Max because he is getting better every year and he’s a top-level driver.
“There is no doubt that he is extremely fast and he’s not easy to beat on any day. But even on those days where he has out-qualified me, I’ve still been comfortable with that and most of the time I’ve understood why.
“Sometimes I’ve taken my hat off and said that it was just a bloody good lap, but there have been other times, where there have been some issues and I’ve had some little things which haven’t quite gone my way.”
To say that things haven’t gone his way could be seen as an understatement. Constant engine failures have hampered Ricciardo throughout the season, leading to Verstappen finishing above him on 14 occasions.
A prime example of the Aussie’s fortunes was in the Mexico, where he started on pole position but a faulty engine meant he did not finish the race, with Verstappen taking home the victory.
However, Renault-bound Ricciardo is still trying to view the campaign in a positive light and believes that he has the answers to the problems he faced.
“Long story short, I’m still comfortable with the year I’ve had,” Ricciardo stated. “Even if I haven’t performed maybe as well as I would have liked, if there wasn’t a reason for it I’ve been able to understand it. And if I don’t know why, I’ve been able to figure it out and move on.
“I’m happier than what the statistics show, let’s say that!”
With Ricciardo joining the Renault team for the 2019 season, it will be interesting to see how his relationship with Verstappen will change now they are no longer teammates.