The ‘honey badger’ changes burrows. Australian Daniel Ricciardo will leave Red Bull, the seat of his first F1 victories at the end of the season, to join the ambitious Renault in the market’s first major operation.
Mercedes? Ferrari? Finally, it is in the garage of the French brand where the 29-year-old, 5th in the World Championship, is going to stop for the next two seasons.
“It is without a doubt one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make in my career, but I think it was a good time to launch myself into a new challenge,” said the Perth-born rider, quoted in a statement from the French team. .
Ricciardo has had experiences of all kinds with Red Bull: the glory of seven victories, including the prestigious one in Monaco this season, and 29 podiums, but also the degrading image of an accident with his teammate Max Verstappen in Baku last month. of April.
At Renault, he will meet a rebuilding team, currently fourth in the World Championship. Since their return in 2016 after a six-year hiatus, the French team, world champion in 2006 with Fernando Alonso, hopes to compete with Mercedes or Ferrari for the constructors’ title in 2020.
“I know there is a lot of work ahead to enable Renault to achieve its goal, which is to be at the highest level, but I am impressed by its progression in just two years,” explained Ricciardo.
“Daniel’s arrival is the sign of our determination to accelerate our pace of progression to the top of the rankings,” added Cyril Abiteboul, Renault CEO.
«The talent and the undeniable charisma of Daniel compels us. We will have to overcome to give him the best car possible, “he continued.
– Renault engines –
The Australian will not start this new stage from unknown terrain. It will be reunited with the Renault engines that Red Bull will use until the end of the current financial year, when the Austrians will switch to Honda.
“We fully respect Daniel’s decision to leave Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and wish him the best for the future,” said Austrian team president Christian Horner.
“We would like to thank you for your commitment and the role you have played since your arrival,” he added.
Ricciardo achieved his first successes in Formula 1 with Red Bull, after having made his debut in 2011 with HRT, a team from which he joined Toro Rosso the following year, where he stayed for two courses.
He won gallons in 2014 replacing his compatriot Mark Webber at Red Bull. With seven victories in four years, the first in Canada in 2014, he popularized his celebration, the “shoey” that consists of drinking champagne in his shoe.
Since 2016, Ricciardo has had as a partner the young Dutch prodigy Max Verstappen, 20, whose emergence progressively threatened his number 1 status within the team.
If this transfer will scatter ego battles down the road, it also drives a wedge in a market where every seat will be worth dearly.
To replace Ricciardo, the Spanish Carlos Sainz Jr, on loan from Red Bull to… Renault this season, or the French Pierre Gasly, in the Toro Rosso incubator, are suitors with credit. The start of a new career. AFP