SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo is already looking ahead to next season, relishing the prospect of a new engine that he hopes will propel him back up the Formula One pecking order.
After winning three races in 2014 and finishing third in the driver’s championship, the Australian has endured a frustrating 2015, registering just one podium finish and constant problems with the Renault engine powering Red Bull.
But with Renault saying they would stop supplying engines to Formula One teams next year, Red Bull is looking for a new engine.
There are just three other engine suppliers in the sport - Mercedes, Ferrari and Honda - with Red Bull widely expected to use Ferrari engines next year.
”My preference is what’s fastest... whichever is going to give us the better chance of victory is what I want, Ricciardo told reporters on Thursday ahead of this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.
“If it gets us a better chance to win, I don’t really care what it is at this stage.”
Renault won four championships in a row with Red Bull from 2010-13 but the French manufacturer has been lagging behind champions Mercedes and Ferrari since the complex new V6 turbo hybrid power units were introduced in 2014. Like Renault, Honda has also struggled this year.
Relations between Red Bull and Renault have been prickly all year but Ricciardo, 26, was diplomatic when asked about the Renault engines this season.
He said he was still unsure what would happen but was looking forward to driving a more competitive car next year.
“We expected this year to be better, obviously not only from performance but also reliability,” he said.
“This year was more challenging than we hoped but you just hope, moving forward, whatever happens in ‘16 that we don’t struggle as much as we did this year.”
Despite his frustrations, the Australian was at least hopeful for a better showing at this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.
The slow, tight street circuit should suit Red Bull and while Ricciardo was unsure if they could keep up with the dominant Mercedes’, he did expect to challenge Ferrari for a spot on the podium.
“This is definitely one that should suit us a lot better, it’s just maxed out for us, it’s what we’re normally better at,” he said.
”I still think Ferrari is going to be strong and hard to beat for us but we should be close.
“If we start on the right foot, I think we’ll be there.”
Reporting by Julian Linden, editing by Pritha Sarkar