The Australian spent the past 4 years in the Red Bull Racing team. He came to the team from Milton Keynes after two full seasons in Scuderia Toro Rosso. Before the summer, it has been said that Ricciardo will most likely sign a new contract with the Austrian-British team, but just yesterday the information dropped that he will drive alongside Nico Hulkenberg in Renault from 2019. Isn't it a „shot in the leg” for the 28 years old?
After the release of the statement, Ricciardo admitted he needed a „new challenge”. After his decision, the F1 drivers market is in the chaos. Let's have a closer look on why Renault was the choice of the Australian driver.
On one hand, although mostly a suspicion and some kind of an conspiracy theory, Ricciardo could have been lured to Renault by the promise of a more reliable power unit. In the Hungarian GP his teammate, Max Verstappen, was forced to retire from the race due to problems with his engine. In the past few years the tempo and reliability of the Renault power units in the hands of Red Bull has been going down each season. Why move to a team that actually supplies the other one with this kind of engines? Since Renault is a factory team of the company, their outlook on and work with the unit is more „careful” than the team that buys the parts from them. In the past races although troubled by not so outstanding pace, they did not suffer major problems with the car. For Renault, setting a deal with Ricciardo is also a slap in the face for Red Bull team and Christian Horner, after their repeatedly complained about the engines that Renault supplied them with. This is no taboo knowledge that the factory teams get much better units than the supplied ones.
On the other hand, Ricciardo could have been just not sure about the upcoming Red Bull - Honda deal, that will take place from the beginning of the 2019 season. Although the deal between Mclaren and Honda was not successful at all, the deal between Toro Rosso and Honda, already taking place this season, is pretty much impressive. The collaboration between the Japanese manufacturer and the Italian based team has provided a good pace for their drivers, even securing high grid places during the races for Pierre Gasly (4th in Bahrain and 6th in Hungary). The future of Red Bull – Honda is uncertain, and because it works pretty well it does not already mean that it will work wonders for Red Bull. Despite the fact that Red Bull is a team that could make their partnership with Honda bring them into even higher place they're now, until the time for them to show it, we can only speculate.
Lastly, Ricciardo could have been just tired of slowly getting into the position of the second driver in the Red Bull team. The UK-based team has in the past favored the slightly younger Dutch driver over the Australian, and his move into Renault will most likely save him the number one spot in the team, regardless of how well Nico Hulkenberg will perform. Daniel, over the years, has proved himself to be a good driver and one of the best overtakers on the grid, and with the Renault team he could show his wonders on the track more often.
How will Ricciardo perform behind the steering wheel of Renault? We will know from the season of 2019. For now on, it' time to wait for the summer break to be over and see how he will do in the last part of the season, and the (most likely) last time in his Red Bull car and wish him good luck with the upcoming challenge.