In a shock U-turn, just 24 hours after Daniel Ricciardo stated he expected a new contract to be announced with Red Bull by the Belgian Grand Prix, it has been officially announced that the Australian will be leaving his current team at the end of the season.
The announcement was made by Red Bull on their website, via Twitter, at lunchtime (you can read the full statement below). It was announced shortly afterwards that Ricciardo has signed a two year deal to partner Nico Hulkenburg at Renault.
This announcement is likely to shake up the field quite dramatically ahead of next season. With the latest rumblings at the Hungarian Grand Prix that Esteban Ocon would be heading to Renault, with Lance Stroll to take his seat at Force India. Carlos Sainz would then head to McLaren to replace either Fernando Alonso or Stoffel Vandoorne. These plans have now been thrown into the air, as someone will need to replace Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull, hopefully there will be more news on this in the coming days.
Daniel Ricciardo Statement
“It was probably one of the most difficult decisions to take in my career so far,” said Ricciardo.
“But I thought that it was time for me to take on a fresh and new challenge. I realise that there is a lot ahead in order to allow Renault to reach their target of competing at the highest level but I have been impressed by their progression in only two years, and I know that each time Renault has been in the sport they eventually won. I hope to be able to help them in this journey and contribute on and off track.”
Red Bull Statement
‘Having joined the Red Bull family in 2008 as a member of the Red Bull Junior Team, with whom he won numerous junior titles, Daniel made his F1 debut in 2011 at the British Grand Prix. After two seasons with Scuderia Toro Rosso, Daniel joined us in 2014 and to date has brought the team seven victories, 29 podium finishes, two pole positions and 904 championship points.
‘Commenting on Daniel’s decision, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner said: “We fully respect Daniel’s decision to leave Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and we wish him all the best in his future. We would like to thank him for his dedication and the role he has played since joining the Team in 2014, the highlights of course being the seven wins and the 29 podiums he has achieved so far with us.
‘”We will now continue to evaluate the numerous options available to us before deciding on which driver partners Max Verstappen for the 2019 season. In the meantime, there are still nine races left in 2018 and we are fully focused on maximising every opportunity for Max and Daniel for the remainder of the season.”‘
This reaction from McLaren test driver and current F2 Championship leader Lando Norris was priceless
The departure of Daniel Ricciardo will leave a personality hole in the Red Bull team, and one that the team will struggle to fill from a PR and entertainment value. But whether it’s really the right move for Daniel Ricciardo is debatable. He is obvious number two at Red Bull again, and he wants a chance to genuinely compete.