Daniel Ricciardo says he wanted a fresh challenge but admits leaving Red Bull for Renault was “one of the most difficult decisions” of his career.
In a shock move, it was announced on Friday that Ricciardo will leave Red Bull after five years with the team — and a decade as part of its driver set-up — in order to join Renault on a two-year deal. Speaking about the decision to switch teams, Ricciardo says he needs to be patient with Renault to improve, but is motivated by a change of scenery.
“It was probably one of the most difficult decisions to take in my career so far,” Ricciardo said. “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. I hope to be able to help them in this journey and contribute on and off track.”
Ricciardo will partner Nico Hulkenberg at Renault. Managing director Cyril Abiteboul says his acquisition shows faith in the French manufacturer’s desire to break into the top three in the coming years.
“Daniel’s signing underscores our determination to accelerate our progress towards the forefront of the sport,” Abiteboul said. “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.”
Renault president Jerome Stoll says Ricciardo’s arrival will act as added motivation, with a proven grand prix-winner joining the team.
“Renault decided to come back to Formula 1 to fight for World Championships,” Stoll said. “Signing Daniel Ricciardo is a unique opportunity for the Groupe Renault towards this objective that could not be missed. We welcome Daniel’s arrival to our team, still in the making, but more motivated than ever.”