Red Bull’s Christian Horner recently revealed that “We would have even been willing to give Daniel Ricciardo a one-year contract – to give him a chance at Ferrari or Mercedes from 2020 onwards.”
After eleven long years, the Australian leaves the Red Bull family and becomes Renault works driver with the 29-year-old from Perth having signed a multi-year contract for the French Renault team and will compete in 2019 with Nico Hülkenberg in yellow.
It’s no secret that Ricciardo had courted both Mercedes and Ferrari extensively over the last year or so. Unfortunately for the seven time Grand Prix winner, Mercedes went on with Bottas and Hamilton whilst Ferrari rejected the significant sum of money required for Ricciardo’s services (allegedly).
In addition, team boss Maurizio Arrivabene and the former Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne wanted to keep calm in the team, with zero interference around the single lead driver policy that would effect the supremacy of Sebastian Vettel.
So Daniel Ricciardo was faced with the decision: stay with Red Bull Racing, who will use Honda engines from 2019, or switch to an emerging midfield team, such as Renault. RBR team boss Horner claims that:
“Daniel told me that he had decided to take his step on a long-haul flight to America. If I consider his decision reasonable, I can hardly understand it. ”
“It is a pity that he will leave our team,” says Horner in a podcast on the official Formula 1 website. “He is convinced that Renault is in an upward trend.”
“He prefers to play a leading role in a smaller environment.”
Perhaps there lay the real reasons Christian?
Please stay Daniel??
Horner and Red Bull Motorsport Director Dr. Helmut Marko absolutely wanted Ricciardo to stay with Red Bull Racing, and give evidence of that claim by revealing some of their attempts to keep the solid points scorer.
“It was as if you wanted to convince a reserved girl to go out with you.” Horner claims rather bizarrely…
“We have fulfilled all the points that Daniel wanted. We have really taken the utmost effort. We have even agreed to give him only a one-year contract, if in twelve months Mercedes or Ferrari is knocking”
“It was never about money. It was also not about the status, the dedication or the duration of the agreement. But when the heart is gone …”
Horner openly admits that Daniel Ricciardo surprised him: “Daniel called me and said,” I’m going to Renault. “I said,” Are you kidding me a bit during the holiday season or something?”
“I thought in the first second really, he’s kidding. But then I quickly realized how serious he is. I have to respect that.”
Of course there are other factors that a Red Bull team boss is very unlikely to admit to. Certainly that of obvious team favouritism toward the young Max Verstappen, but also it is understood that the salary on offer wasn’t equal to that of the Dutchman.
Expect to see fewer wins and points positions for the likeable Australian for the second half of the season. The team will no doubt now extend all their efforts into the driver contracted to them for several years.
It will be interesting to see if the RBR TAG Heuer* engines suffer the same drop off in performance and reliability that Toro Rosso’s did in the last 10 races of their contract last year.
My guess is that Max will be working blue a lot on the team radio over the next few months while Dan quietly giggles to himself.
F1 is just as much political as it is technical.