Daniel Ricciardo has shocked the Formula One world today by announcing that he will leave the Red Bull team as he moves to the factory Renault team on a two year deal starting in 2019.
The Australian, who has raced under the Red Bull banner for the last decade, was promoted to Red Bull from Toro Rosso in 2014 following Mark Webber’s retirement and has since gone on to score seven wins and 29 podiums for the team.
Commenting on his move, Daniel said, “It was probably one of the most difficult decisions to take in my career so far. 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 team principal Christian Horner thanked Ricciardo for his contribution to the team’s success and wished him all the best.
“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 Australian’s future team principal, Cyril Abiteboul, said the following, “Daniel’s signing underscores our determination to accelerate our progress towards the forefront of the sport. It is also a recognition of the work accomplished over the past two and a half seasons. Daniel’s undoubted talent and charisma are a huge bonus and statement for the team. We will have to repay his faith in us by delivering the best car possible. We welcome him to our growing team in 2019 with a great deal of pride, but also humility.”
The announcement has sent the “Silly Season” into overdrive, as it had previously been rumoured that Ocon was certain to drive for Renault next year, however Renault confirmed current driver Nico Hulkenberg alongside the Australian for the 2019 Season.
There is also a lot of questions on who will be replacing Daniel in the Austrian team, the two front runners being current Renault driver, Carlos Sainz and Toro Rosso driver, Pierre Gasly.
“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,” said Christian Horner.
Over the coming weeks there will be more news about who will go where in 2019, so by the time we get to Spa, another few pieces of the jigsaw may have been added.