Daniel Ricciardo to Renault for 2019 and 2020. It was an announcement that shocked F1. Even Christian Horner didn’t believe the Australian when he called to inform his Team Principal that he was leaving after a decade within the Red Bull family…
Speaking on the latest episode of the official F1 podcast, Beyond The Grid, presented by Bose, Horner talks through the lengths Red Bull went to in a bid to keep the Honey Badger onside and reveals how close they actually came to doing a deal before the Australian chose to sign with Renault.
“I thought he was winding me up to be honest with you,” said Horner. “He rang me to say I’m going to Renault. I said ‘You what? Is this a wind-up for the summer holidays?’ But it then became very clear that was his choice and you have to respect that. Renault are a growing team, they’re committing resource there.
“I think Daniel decided after a long flight to America, he decided he wanted a change. You look at the rational reasons for that, it’s difficult to understand, but Daniel obviously had his reasons.
“I think it comes back to wanting to take on, in his words, a new challenge but I also feel he sees Max growing and growing in terms of speed and strength and he doesn’t want to play a support role I guess, for want of a better word, not that they are treated in any way differently.
“They would have equal status, as they have always had. I could understand if it was to Ferrari or Mercedes, but it’s an enormous risk at this stage of his career.
“It’s been a bit like trying to convince a girl to go out with you, but she’s being pretty reticent. We have bent over backwards to make it happen, but if someone’s heart isn’t really in it, then…
“We gave Daniel everything he wanted and asked for and it still wasn’t enough. We were even prepared to do a one-year agreement so he was available to Ferrari or Mercedes should they come knocking in 12 months’ time.
“It wasn’t about money or status, commitment or duration. I think he felt 'I need to take something else on in this stage of my career'. It might be an inspired choice, it might one that he regrets.”
Horner also discusses his own racing career, his rise to the role of Team Principal of Red Bull and the time he was quizzed by the Queen about the ‘Multi 21’ controversy between Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.