Daniel Ricciardo says racing alongside Esteban Ocon at Renault during the 2020 Formula 1 season helped him understand “how the younger generation are wired”.
Ocon returned to the F1 grid last year after spending 2019 on the sidelines as reserve driver for Mercedes, partnering Ricciardo who had joined Renault from Red Bull the previous year.
Ricciardo comfortably outperformed Ocon over the season, winning the qualifying head-to-head 15-2 and outscoring the Frenchman 119 points to 62 to finish seven places higher in the drivers’ championship.
The Australian, who scored two podiums in 2020, said the challenge of facing a young team-mate is something he embraces.
“I’ve always enjoyed and embraced a new team mate,” Ricciardo said, as quoted by F1.com. “It’s no secret that they are your first rival. They are always the guy that deep down you want to beat the most because they represent your fairest competition.
“And [Ocon] is a young, hungry kid coming up – a bit similar to Max [Verstappen] in some respects. It’s been an opportunity to learn, and to understand how the younger generation are wired.”
Ricciardo is no stranger to being teamed with younger drivers having partnered Max Verstappen and Daniil Kvyat at Red Bull, who are eight and five years younger respectively.
The 31-year-old will once again find himself the elder statesman as he moves to McLaren in 2021, when he will partner Lando Norris 10 years his junior.
Ricciardo admits he enjoys the task of racing against a younger driver as it “keeps him on his toes”.
“I’ve had good success up until now, but I enjoy the challenge,” Ricciardo added.
“I think with the younger drivers you see they are pretty quick learners. If I go out and do a fast corner, full-throttle, then in the next session, or on the next lap even, they’re going to do it too, so I like that. I like being kept on my toes and it’s forcing me to grow and get better.”