Daniel Ricciardo admits 2018 has been the most challenging season of his five years at Red Bull as he departs for Renault in 2019.
The first six races of the season yielded two victories for Ricciardo offset by two retirements, but he failed to finish on a further six occasions over the rest of the season, and was also unable to return to the podium. Having taken the decision in the summer to leave Red Bull after five seasons – along with another two at Toro Rosso as part of the Red Bull young driver program – Ricciardo admits the frustrations of the multiple retirements were added to by the stresses surrounding his future.
“It certainly has been [the most challenging],” Ricciardo told the Red Bull podcast. “I thought 2015 was challenging – on-track and off-track – but this year has been the most. The on-track stuff has been more challenging than ever, but also just other things like figuring out… a lot of people have been trying to help, but also figuring out who’s really trying to help and who’s not.
“There has just been a lot of other stuff. I know in the long-term – and my good friends around me tell me this – they are like, ‘it’s all part of the story and it’s all going to shape a beautiful ending one day’. I believe that. It sucks for the time being, but I believe that.”
The Australian admits he has experienced both his biggest highs and lows with Red Bull within his final season with the team, having finally won the Monaco Grand Prix this year, but then retiring early in Austin.
“Monaco, that high literally lasted…let’s say the drinking went on for about four days,” he said. “But that high, literally waking up in the middle of the night and just ‘wowing’, was, I want to say, seven or eight days. That was cool.
“[The lowest was] Austin 2018. It just hit me. That race really got me. It was a combination, because I had friends there and I wanted to enjoy my time with them, but I just couldn’t snap out of it. I was so down. It wasn’t a good place to be in, but I guess it’s because I care.”