Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo is to leave Red Bull at the end of 2018 and will join Renault on a two year deal.
After several reports suggesting that Ricciardo would be staying and that a deal would be announced before the Belgian GP, Ricciardo has announced that he will be leaving after this current season of F1.
Ricciardo has been part of the Red Bull family since 2008 and made his debut with HRT in 2011. Ricciardo joined Toro Rosso, the junior team of Red Bull, and competed with them through 2012 and 2013. When Mark Webber announced his retirement from the sport in 2013, Red Bull promoted Ricciardo to a race seat alongside Sebastian Vettel for 2014.
Ricciardo, in his first year, took his first F1 podium at the Spanish GP, then his first GP win at Canada and then followed that up with wins in Belgium and Hungary to end the 3rd in the Drivers Championship only behind the two Mercedes drivers of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
In total, Ricciardo has taken 7 GP wins, 29 podium finishes and two pole positions with Red Bull. (Stats accurate at the end of the 2018 Hungarian GP)
The future with Renault
Daniel Ricciardo’s move has shocked the F1 paddock. The deal with Red Bull looked to be needing a couple more signatures, well that is what we were led to believe.
The deal has been struck and confirmed with Renault confirming the move.
Moving to Renault may actually be a very good move. The move suggests that Ricciardo is looking ahead towards the new regulations that are coming into force in 2021. This move mimics Lewis Hamilton’s decision to leave McLaren at the end of 2012 and join Mercedes in preparation of the introduction of the hybrid engines in 2014.
Where does this leave the driver market?
For quite a while, Lewis Hamilton held the key to the whole driver market when Mercedes and himself were still deciding the Brit’s contract. Then, it was Ricciardo who held the key and has turned the key unlocking the driver market to erupt for next year.
He will be partnering Nico Hulkenberg for next year as the German locked down in a contract with the French team. This means that Carlos Sainz would leave Renault.
Sainz’s situation is kinda tricky. Technically, Red Bull own his contract after being loaned out to Renault at the end of 2017. Red Bull have up until September to decide what they want to do will Sainz’s contract. This means that Sainz could either end up at Red Bull, taking Ricciardo’s seat or back at Toro Rosso. Or Red Bull could not renew his contract and Sainz could do whatever he wants for next year. A move to McLaren?
Ricciardo’s move to Renault shuts the door for Esteban Ocon. Renault have been heavily interested with the Frenchman and current Force India driver and a deal had looked to be signed for next year.
Confirmed 2019 Driver-Line-ups
- Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas
- Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel
- Red Bull: Max Verstappen
- Renault: Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg