Daniel Ricciardo has opened up in depth with regards to his sensational move from Red Bull to Renault, revealing an intriguing period of tough decision making as he plotted his future in Formula 1.
Cyril Abiteboul led the coup of the year by nabbing the Australian on a big bucks two-year deal with the French team but it was a close thing as Ricciardo revealed to Racer, “What I was going back and forth with was, originally [Red Bull] wanted to do a two-year deal, and because I’d already questioned if I wanted to do another year there, doing two years… I was a bit concerned with me personally; with my motivation to still be there.”
“I was just thinking if Honda doesn’t work, next year’s a year of frustration, then am I really going to want to do another year on top of that, or am I just going to get a bit over it?”
“So initially the two-year thing was something that concerned me, so then it was like: OK, let’s try and push for a one year and if the Honda works, great, we’ll extend it and whatever. Easy.”
“But then one year felt risky. It felt like I wasn’t really achieving anything by signing a one-year. I don’t know, it just didn’t really add up. So what I thought I wanted, I didn’t really want in the end. So there wasn’t really anything for me.”
“The two-year, for me, I didn’t really feel I wanted, and a one-year was like it puts me in this position again in 12 months time, and I don’t really want to be back in this position to be honest, because it’s starting to become a bit wearing.”
Also wooing Ricciardo when he had his feelers out were McLaren, “I had a couple of meetings with them – and I thought they were really cool people. Definitely, as personnel, I like them a lot. Not that I don’t like Red Bull or anyone else, but I had a really positive vibe with them.”
“I think if it was completely personal then McLaren would have been as attractive as anyone. But there was still obviously a big chunk of performance there.”
“But obviously, they’ll admit it, they’re just not there yet, and it just seemed probably a bit too optimistic to go there at that point. So that kind of eliminated them.”
Ironically, while Red Bull management were in the throes of an ongoing war of words with Renault, their driver Ricciardo was in serious talks with the French outfit.
He revealed, “Then, Renault we were kind of talking to a bit and eventually it just kind of clicked for me. I was like: Alright, so it’s a works team, the progress they’ve made is good, it’s two years and a solid deal.”
Although Ricciardo is expected to lead the team, he will team up with Nico Hulkenberg, an interesting combination which should once and for all reveal how good the German really is. While all eyes will be on the big smiling Aussie to see if he can return the team to winning ways.
“I won’t lie, having Nico as a teammate is by no means a bad thing,” continued Ricciardo. “I liked that idea. I’ve always rated him because I raced him as a junior and he was winning everything, basically, and I think his work with the team and experience in racing generally could help the team.”
“I know he’s super-motivated because he has one statistic that not many people want, and that’s the podium-less one. Everyone knows he’s good enough for it. So he’s going to be motivated, me coming to the team is going to add motivation for him, but I think it can boost us and fast-track the progress.
“It just seemed like the right fit, and I was like: You know what? That’s it! It got to that point as well where what I really felt I just need a change, and just to break the routine, really.”
“It sounds weird, and people are like: How can F1 become boring or a routine? But I think it’s like everything. I’ve always been a kid who at school was jumping around and I was never really satisfied with what I was doing, I always wanted to do something else.”
“I guess it got to a point now, being with the same team and the same people, I was like: Alright, I need something else now. I get a bit antsy, I guess!”
“The presentation and everything that Renault put forward, it seemed… We all know they’ve still got work to do with chassis and engine, but what they showed me, what they’ve done the last two years, when they put it on paper it all added up, and their trajectory seems realistic if that makes sense.”
“It just seemed like it could work,” added Ricciardo whose first race in yellow will be at his home race, the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on 17 March.
Big Question: Was moving from Red Bull to Renault the right thing for Daniel to do?