Opinion: The one move that can save Ricciardo's doomed F1 career

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It was an announcement that caught Formula 1 off-guard when Daniel Ricciardo signed at Renault for 2019 last summer.

With all indications suggesting a Red Bull renewal was all but done, the Australian threw a curveball by seeking a new challenge at Enstone and stepping out of the growing shadow of Max Verstappen.

Few can argue with him for wanting to do so and Renault did appear the natural choice as a manufacturer in a manufacturer-dominated era.

However, after just four races, it is already apparent that Ricciardo's dream of leading a crusade back to the top will not be happening anytime soon.

Unsurprisingly, he has needed time to adjust to life after the company which he had been with for a decade, but he also hasn't helped himself by causing two of his three retirements so far in 2019.

However, Renault has also fallen short of the expected level of competitiveness and that is a result of the same old problem, their bite doesn't match their bark.

They talk a big game and do have the money, the resources and increasing manpower to take the French brand back at the top in F1.

But, despite improvements, the engine is now the weakest on the grid, combining power and reliability, and the chassis remains well below the standard of the top three teams.

The reason for that is the company is simply unwilling to make the financial commitment required to catch Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

Instead, bosses are simply pinning their hopes on new regulations in 2021.

While that might make sense for them, right now what it means is, while ever Renault continues to spend on the level of the fourth best team, that is the only position that they can realistically strive for.

And that is bad news for Ricciardo, who put his faith in the team to produce the necessary improvement to compete at the front as quickly as possible.

Very soon, he made be facing another tough decision as to whether he stays and on his current course with Renault or looks elsewhere?

And this may happen sooner rather than later too because Ricciardo knows that his cred with the top teams is being damaged with every moment he spends in obscurity.

On top of that, new names are coming through who are getting more attention and may become more appealing than the 'Honey Badger' in the driver market.

There is, however, a possible way out for Danny Ric and that is Ferrari.

The situation at the Italian team is becoming more delicate after the arrival of Charles Leclerc, with the status of Sebastian Vettel being called into question.

Retirement is even being mentioned and if there was a sniff of an opportunity, Ricciardo would be stupid not to throw his name in the hat.

Immediately, I can hear the arguments most would likely come up with against the idea.

Obviously, yes, Leclerc is the driver that Ferrari see as their future but, the Aussie is a driver that you could pair with anyone and the Scuderia won't be wanting to put all their eggs into the Monegasque basket for a few years yet.

Then there's Mick Schumacher, the son of a legend to whom a seat at Maranello appears his ultimate destiny.

But it will still be three or four years at least, before that dream becomes a reality, mostly because the 20-year-old isn't yet showing the kind of talent that Leclerc has.

Schumacher may need another year in F2 before F1 comes calling, and then there's a season or more at Alfa Romeo which would probably follow.

If Vettel was to leave after 2020 then, a window is there for Ricciardo to escape the misery at Renault.

And he shouldn't be shy to accept this gamble failed and move on because if he waits too long, the prospect of his career echoing Fernando Alonso grows bigger.

The only difference there is Alonso got his two championships early doors.