Daniel Ricciardo reveals more details about his decision to leave Red Bull for Renault and confirms he refused a McLaren offer because he was of the opinion that the team was not “there yet”
On Friday the 3rd of August 2018, Daniel Ricciardo surprised almost everyone associated with Formula 1 with the announcement of his decision to leave Red Bull and go to Renault in 2019.
The idea that Ricciardo could leave Red Bull has been a real possibility for some time, but the chances seemed smaller with the announcement by Mercedes in which they made public their desire to keep both drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. And yet, just days after their bombshell announcement, Ricciardo did not know what decision he was about to make.
Reflecting on the biggest decision in his Formula 1 career so far, Ricciardo admits that he has had a number of good choices to choose from, two of which are unexpected.
“I knew, obviously, that I would have to restrict the number of options, at that time I knew it was not possible to change to either Mercedes or Ferrari. I knew both those options were of the table. So I knew it had to be a choice between Red Bull, McLaren and Renault. I was not sure, honest. ”
When the decision was made, he took a lot of people by surprise – no one was more surprised than Red Bull teamprincipal Christian Horner, who expected Ricciardo to sign a new contract that week. Inevitably, questions were addressed and reasons were sought at the Milton Keynes plant, Max Verstappen’s new ascending trajectory, and his subsequent contract extension – despite the fact that he still had a longer contract than Ricciardo – was quoted as a potential factor.
The Australian sees similarities with his coming to Red Bull in 2014 and succeeding in eclipsing Sebastian Vettel, the four times world champion: the veteran pilot was faced with a much younger colleague coming to the front with the ability to become a future team leader.
“I did not see things that way, destroying what they already had. I think the most important thing for me that year was that I managed to reach the height and the results I thought I was able to achieve, and that was very good for me.
“I had never been directly compared to Seb, but I was looking at the onboard cameras and other things like that, I knew it was fast and I knew he was talented, but honestly, in my mind things were so, I think I can do it , I really think I can do what he’s doing now. So I was not surprised to see that I could really do it, but it was cool to be able to prove what I really thought I could do. ”
As they hoped to keep Vettel in 2015, Red Bull wanted to keep Ricciardo also for this year. Negotiations were long and the team was of the opinion that they did everything they could to keep the Australian happy. So did Red Bull offer Ricciardo all he asked for?
“I do not know, I suppose they came close to what I wanted. there were a few things. The main problem was that they initially wanted to make a two-year contract, and since I did not know if I wanted to stay there for a year, to stay for two years … I was quite concerned about myself, my motivation to be still there.
“I was thinking that if Honda would not work well, next year it would be a year of frustration, do I really want to do another year after that, or would I throw in the towel? So, initially, the two-year part made me think, so we tried to make a one-year contract, if that’s the case with Honda, super, we’re extending again. Easy…..
“And then the situation in one year seemed risky. I felt I was doing nothing if I signed a one-year contract. I do not know, I just did not have a good feeling. So what I thought I wanted, actually did not want it from the beginning. There was absolutely nothing there for me. The two-year contract, for me, did not feel like I wanted it, and the one-year-old was going to bring me to the same place a year later. I really did not want to be in this position because it was already getting tired. ”
On the other hand, McLaren seemed to be a good option for Ricciardo. At this stage, he knew he would not compete in a very competitive car, at least not as competitive as he had in recent years, but even so, the recent form was hard to ignore.
“McLaren, as a group – I had a few meetings with them – and I honestly think they are very fine people. Personally, I like the team very much. Not that I would not like people at Red Bull, but I had a positive attitude towards them. But obviously, they would admit that, they are not there yet, and it seemed probably too optimistic to think we’ll get there anytime soon. So this simply removed them from the list.
“Then Renault, I talked with them, and maybe something happened to me, and I thought okay, if it’s a complete team, the progress they’ve made so far is good, the deal was for two years and it’s an excellent offer.
“I will not lie, to have Nico as a colleague is not a bad thing at all. I liked this idea. I always considered him good because I competed against him as a junior and he consistently won everything, basically, and I think his work with the team and his experience as a pilot in general can help the team enormously.
“I know he’s very motivated because he unfortunately has a statistic that not so many people want, and that’s that he has never been on the podium in many races. Everyone knows he is good enough to succeed. So I will be motivated, and the fact that I will join the team will certainly motivate him even more, which I think could give a boost and will put us on the right track for progress.
“It just seemed the right decision, and I thought you know what? that’s it. I got to that point where I really felt I needed a change, to change the routine if nothing else, honestly.
“The presentation, and all that Renault has put before me, seemed… We all know they still have both chassis and engine work, but what they showed me and what they did in the last two years when they put everything on the sheet everything seemed to fit, and their trajectory seemed realistic and meaningful.
“I just had the impression that this is the way to go.”
Photocredit: Renault F1
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