Daniel Ricciardo has shocked the Formula One worls by announcing that he will quit Red Bull Racing at the end of this season and drive for Renault on a two-year contract.
Just last week, the popular Australian racer told the media that he was just days away from signing a new contract with Red Bull Racing after potential drives at Mercedes and Ferrari didn’t materialize.
In a statement, Ricciardo said he hopes to be able to lead Renault from its current position in the mid-field up to the top of the sport.
“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 realize 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,” Ricciardo said.
Can Ricciardo return Renault to the top of the sport?
Electing to step out of a race-winning Red Bull and into a Renault is a huge risk for Ricciardo. Sky Sports F1 says that it is a move which mimics Lewis Hamilton’s decision to leave a race-winning McLaren for a mid-field Mercedes in 2013. Ricciardo will hope to replicate the success Hamilton has enjoyed in the years since, though it is by no means an easy feat, and he’ll need to have a top-notch car to begin with.
It is believed that Red Bull’s move to ditch Renault engines in favor of Honda power units for next year played a role in Ricciardo’s decision to leave the team.
While driving for Red Bull, Ricciardo has claimed seven victories, 29 podiums and scored 904 championship points. He has repeatedly expressed his desire to drive a car that can rival for a championship, but so far, Red Bull has failed to provide him with a racer that will challenge the Mercs and Ferraris on all races.
The Australian will partner Nico Hulkenberg at Renault. Red Bull Racing has yet to announce who will partner Max Verstappen.