shocked Red Bull at the start of F1’s summer break by agreeing to join
Renault next season instead of signing a new deal as his current
employer had expected.
motorsport advisor Marko said he did not understand the decision and
thought Ricciardo would sign a new contract during the post-Hungarian
Grand Prix test on the Tuesday in Budapest.
Ricciardo has now explained how he ended up deciding to join Renault two days later instead.
is not something I knew for weeks or months,” said Ricciardo. “So, it
was all pretty much when it got announced right before the break.
"Renault was part of my considerations for a bit of time, they didn’t come out of nowhere in the last hour.
was really torn with what to do and that process took time. Still in
the race weekend in Budapest I wasn’t sure what I was going to be doing.
"I did the test on Tuesday, and had some time to think about it over those 48 hours and came to my decision.
"It wasn’t easy. There were a lot of factors and variables I had to weigh up in my mind.”
explained that his shift in fortunes after going from two wins in the
first six races to failing to score a podium in the next six, left him
feeling “a little bit frustrated” with himself.
“I was trying to
understand why,” said Ricciardo. “When I weighed it up, the change of
setting, a new challenge, is probably the answer I needed.”
Telling Marko made Ricciardo ‘nervous’
said he had “a few sleepless nights” while deliberating leaving Red
Bull, three times a race winner this season, for Renault, which has yet
to score a podium since returning to the F1 grid in 2016.
has said Red Bull offered Ricciardo everything he asked for in a bid to
keep the Australian, and Ricciardo admitted he was “a little nervous”
when informing them he will leave.
He called Marko and Red Bull
team boss Christian Horner on the Thursday after the Hungarian GP, with
his move to Renault confirmed the next day.
Ricciardo said: “He
[Marko]’s known me for 10 years and I think he’d sensed at times some
frustration or maybe some things changing in me, so, I don’t think it
completely surprised him.
"He was a little bit disappointed I was moving on. It was nice to know I was wanted there and they wanted to keep me.
"It was all calm and respectful, so it was all I could ask for.”
Avoiding Verstappen, Honda didn’t sway decision
the factors Ricciardo had to consider was Red Bull’s decision to use
Honda engines next season despite the Japanese manufacturer’s troubled
recent history with McLaren.
Asked by Motorsport.com how much of
an impact Honda had on his call, Ricciardo said: “Nothing was that
clear-cut. Honda still really need to prove themselves at the front.
wasn’t really one key factor other than myself wanting to have a change
of scenery. That was probably the biggest thing, it wasn’t necessarily
the engine deal or financials.”
Horner said he felt that Ricciardo was also keen not to drive in the same team as Max Verstappen anymore.
is the short answer,” Ricciardo said when asked by Motorsport.com if he
needed to escape Verstappen as the young Dutchman settles at Red Bull.
far as [in]equality went in the team, from the outside people thought
that but hand on heart there was never any concern or sign of that.”
Ricciardo had been expected to sign a new Red Bull deal prior to F1’s summer break but shocked his current team by agreeing to drive for Renault instead.
Red Bull claimed to have met all Ricciardo’s contract demands, which led team boss Christian Horner to suggest Ricciardo feared being a number two to Max Verstappen.
Marko told Austrian broadcaster Servus TV: “I don’t understand it. It was a very strange situation anyhow.
"The negotiations were difficult but Wednesday before the Austrian Grand Prix we were talking for two hours and came to an agreement.
"During the weekend, we were talking and renegotiating again.
"In Hungary, he told Mr [Dietrich] Mateschitz and me that he was OK with everything and that he was going to sign during the [post-Hungarian GP] test on Tuesday. But he didn’t.
"On Thursday, he then called and told me he was going to Renault. I can only assume that maybe he doesn’t believe in the Honda project or that Renault offered him a lot of money.”
Ricciardo has won two races with Red Bull this season while Renault is yet to score a podium as it continues to rebuild its works team.
Renault has also admitted to being disappointed it has not made more progress as a race team and as an engine manufacturer in 2018.
Marko said it is “going to be difficult” for Ricciardo to perform his customary ‘shoey’ victory celebration “in the near future”.
He added: “Including his time in the junior programme he has been with Red Bull for 10 years.
"He said he needed a change of surroundings. I can understand that, but it’s a pity because he is one of the strongest drivers.
"His overtakes are great. They come out of nowhere and sometimes his opponents don’t even realise they are being overtaken.”
Red Bull has picked current Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly as Ricciardo’s replacement, sticking to its policy of promoting its own talent from within.
Marko, who said Red Bull will deliberate over its Toro Rosso options until the Italian Grand Prix at the start of September, expects Gasly to make big progress next season.
“Pierre is in his second year in F1, so he is missing some experience,” said Marko. “But his pure speed, especially in qualifying, is very close to Max. That is one of his strengths.
"We expect him to be an appropriate replacement for Ricciardo by the middle of the season.”
Two-time champion Fernando Alonso was named as a fanciful option to replace Ricciardo but dismissed by Christian Horner as a candidate.
Marko added: “We were negotiating with him in 2007 or 2008. His demands were very tedious back then.
"If you look at his history, in McLaren and Ferrari, it was always a one-man show. That doesn’t fit with us.”