Daniel Ricciardo admits he has prepared himself for the prospect of Max Verstappen winning the drivers’ championship with Red Bull Honda this season after his own move to Renault.
Red Bull opted to end its partnership with Renault as its power unit supplier and switch to the Japanese manufacturer from 2019 onwards, something Ricciardo has said was a consideration when deciding to leave the team. Having left a Red Bull outfit that won four races last season for Renault – which has been without a podium since returning to F1 as a constructor in 2016 – Ricciardo says he had to be comfortable with the prospect of his former team supplying a title-winning car this year.
“Actually, part of the decision-making for me, I put myself in the mindset of ‘What if Honda and Red Bull kill it next year, and what if Max becomes world champion?’” Ricciardo told RACER. “So I had already played that through my head and become OK with it, or come to terms with it.
“I think at the end of the day, the way I saw it was one of the big things that led me back was I just felt like I needed change regardless. Even if the team kills it in 2019, I don’t know if I would be convinced that I would be getting everything out of it, if that makes sense. So I’ve come to terms with however it’s going to play out, and I believe regardless it’s the right thing for me.”
While he won seven races with Red Bull, Ricciardo never got the chance to truly challenge for a championship, but says he leaves the team without feeling like there were any serious missed opportunities.
“No, I wouldn’t say any regrets,” he insisted. “Not at all, actually. I guess as well I never really had many other options anyway, so it’s not like I could have signed with Mercedes two years ago and I didn’t want to or whatever. So no regrets. I’m happy.
“I look at 2018 and 2015; there’s been some frustrating years for sure, but I’m always happy with the way I approach it. I don’t look back and say ‘Ah, if I would have worked harder then I wouldn’t be in this position and I would have made things better for myself’. I don’t ever feel like I’ve cheated myself, and some of my best weekends have been when I’ve been more chilled about it and less intense. But I think I’ve found that balance, so no regrets.”