Daniel Ricciardo left Red Bull at the end of the 2018 season to join the Renault team, before joining McLaren in early 2021. These moves beg a question, why did the Australian driver leave the energy drink structure?
According to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner , it was for one simple reason: Max Verstappen.
Speaking to The Australian edition, Horner said: “Daniel had seen [in 2018] that Max was steadily on the rise and he didn’t want to become a second fiddle”.
On top of that, Ricciardo “obviously had doubts about the Honda engines,” said the team principal, who believes Ricciardo ‘s decision was made at a “very bad” time, because Red Bull quickly became a capable and competitive team. of win.
In fact, the Austrians scored three wins under Verstappen in the first year with Honda in 2019. Ricciardo , meanwhile, failed to finish in the top three with Renault that same year, landing on the podium for the first time with the team. French in 2020, when he had already signed a contract with McLaren for 2021.
Despite completing a more negative than positive season, the Australian won the Italian Grand Prix, but that is not his goal: “Of course I would like to win the title with McLaren and then be able to say: I told you so.”
Why did Ricciardo decide to leave Red Bull in F1?
“I knew what I was getting myself into when I left a big team and it felt like the right thing to do at the time. A driver has to be comfortable with everything that is going on in his team and there were a lot of things that I was a bit uncomfortable with. , there was a lack of stability.”
For example, Ricciardo claimed that he learned during the 2018 season that his race engineer, Simon Rennie , would no longer hold the same position in the team from 2019.
“I had established a very good relationship with him and it was clear to me: I would lose him if I stayed,” said Ricciardo , who also highlighted the switch to Renault power units as one of the reasons that pushed him to leave the house. of Milton Keynes .
“The bottom line is that [my] decision made sense. But I can understand people saying that I should never have done it or something like that. But that happens now and I don’t care.”
From Red Bull, Horner claimed that Ricciardo received a “tremendous offer” to remain a driver for the Austrian team beyond 2018, but he turned it down.
“We were sad that he decided to leave the team,” says Horner. “Unfortunately, things didn’t work out the way we wanted for him afterwards.”
Despite everything, the Red Bull rider continues to consider Ricciardo a “great driver” with “extraordinary natural ability” and a “great personality”.
Finishing analyzing the situation, Horner cannot resist comparing the situation for which Ricciardo left Red Bull and the one he currently has at McLaren : “Now Daniel, with Lando [Norris], also has a teammate that he is very fast and that makes life difficult for him. And that is difficult for him to deal with.”