Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Paul Ricard, 2018

Ricciardo faces ‘second-hardest decision of my career’ choosing team for 2019

2019 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by and

Daniel Ricciardo says deciding which team he wants to drive for in the 2019 F1 season is the second-hardest call he’s had to make in his career so far.

“I think the most difficult [decision] was leaving Australia and actually going to Europe when I still didn’t really know what my talent was,” said Ricciardo.

“I didn’t really believe I was good enough. That was probably a trickier decision.”

The choices Ricciardo faces became clearer this week when Red Bull confirmed it will use Honda power units instead of Renault next year. However potential vacancies exist at both the other teams which have won races this year and rumours have linked Ricciardo to other teams as well.

“Obviously everyone’s talking about Mercedes and Ferrari as potential places for me to go,” said Ricciardo. “There’s obviously going to be interest from other teams and I guess McLaren is one of them.

“[That] probably depends as well what Fernando [Alonso] does, if he stays or goes. If he does go then I guess they’ll probably want a more experienced driver to come in. We’ll see. There’s a lot of things to weigh up right now.”

Ricciardo said he isn’t ruling out the possibility of trying to lead a midfield team to success, as Lewis Hamilton did when he joined Mercedes at the end of 2012.

“McLaren and Renault aren’t there today but maybe they will be there in a year or three years’ time. You never really know. Lewis pulled the trigger pretty well, whether he fluked it… he says that he really knew what was going to happen, I don’t know.

“Whether he fluked it or not obviously he’s done well for himself with that move. Whether it’s just a fantasy for everyone else I don’t know but at least there’s a little bit of proof that something like that could potentially happen again.”

However he added he does not want to ‘burn bridges’ with Red Bull. “You never know where the sport will take you and if I did move on from Red Bull I never want to criticise them. The fact is I’ve had it pretty good there and it’s been really fun.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013
Hamilton’s shock Mercedes move paid off
The team’s decision to switch to Honda engines next year did not take Ricciardo by surprise. “It’s something I was aware of that could happen,” he said.

“It’s something I was trying to prepare for or calculate in my mind. Now that it’s official I’m trying to understand a little bit more about it, now that it’s definitely happening. Trying to keep putting the pieces together, if it’s a good move. There’s certainly a lot of pros with it. Just trying to add it all up really in my mind.”

While Mercedes and Ferrari have the most competitive power units in F1 at the moment, Ricciardo isn’t sure which of their rivals is making the most progress.

“Obviously Renault’s come a pretty long way this year. I know we still don’t have the qualifying modes but our race pace, once we’re all fuel saving, all that, we seem a lot more competitive. they’re improving.

“Honda’s improving with Toro Rosso. I think it’s fair to say they’re both on the up. It’s just who’s going to get there quicker, that’s the unknown. Obviously Red Bull believe Honda’s the right ones.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2019 F1 season

Browse all 2019 F1 season articles

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

27 comments on “Ricciardo faces ‘second-hardest decision of my career’ choosing team for 2019”

  1. I think if he can’t go to Mercedes or Ferrari the best choice is to stay. I don’t think Renault or Mclaren will be faster than Red Bull before 2020. The problem with Red Bull is Verstapen, but this year and last year showed that he can score more points even being slower in most of the tracks.

  2. I mean, fair dos for him that he’s on amazing form when it’s new contract time, but the links with McLaren are getting stronger and if you’re honest, that’d only really be for the money. Would be a shame if he does that.

  3. Don’t go to McLaren, Daniel.

    Or maybe, do go to McLaren. If Alonso leaves, that surely means that next year’s Macca will be a contender, considering his luck!

  4. I hope he either stays at Red Bull or goes to Mercedes. If you think what Riccardo can do in a Red Bull, imagine him in Mercedes. He would be much better than Bottas as he’s only 2 points off Bottas. Personally I would allready rate him higher.

    1. I’m pretty sure these are the only realistic options, unless Newey does decide to head to Renault. I don’t think Daniel would make that move without him. If you can’t get into Mercedes, I think you take the gamble in 2021, not in a year with stable regulations (I don’t expect the front wing changes will shake things up at all).

  5. Neil (@neilosjames)
    21st June 2018, 18:17

    I don’t think he’s at the right point of his career to take a gamble on McLaren or Renault. The next 3-4 years will probably decide whether he’ll go down in history as a champion (or at least, a regular contender) or a ‘could have been’… so unless there’s an actual reason to take a risk on a mid-grid team (like there was for Hamilton/Mercedes), I think going for the safest option would be best.

    I’ve been miserable for years at seeing Alonso wasted in a useless car, really don’t want the same to happen to Ricciardo…

  6. I’d be extremely surprised if Dan was in line for a seat at either Merc or Ferrari unless one of their current lead drivers retired/moved on.

    That leaves him really with only 2 other possible choices. RBR or Renault. I suspect that his decision will be based on what design and engineering plans Renault have as they a re currently nowhere near being a “contender” but if they’ve got some plans and some recruiting plans, they might be more attractive than RBR that seems to want to build up around Max.

    Pretty tough decision to make indeed.

  7. I’d say he’s better off staying at Red Bull than heading to McLaren or Renault (assuming he’s confident in what RB and Honda are doing for 2019). A move to Ferrari or Mercedes and being the ‘new guy’ behind Vettel or Hamilton has its own pitfalls.

  8. Surprisingly, he seems rather set on leaving Red Bull.

    1. Surprising that he sounds like he’s got the pick of the lot. Is literally everybody interested in him? Seems to me there’s two sides at negotiating tables.

    2. John Gilmartin
      21st June 2018, 20:11

      Or he’d like them to think he’s tempted to leave, to try to get them to offer him more to stay. But be careful, Daniel, in case they call your bluff.

  9. Mmm difficult choice, go to whatever lower team or stay at Red Bull because neither Ferrari nor Mercedes will have me.

    Yes, veeery very difficult.

  10. Gary Simmons
    21st June 2018, 19:42

    If I were Daniel…. It’d be Renault.

    The current big 3 have already picked their #1 drivers, so he’s choosing from the midfield. Renault is a works team, they are improving each year, and have a history of being able to win it.

    Everything is a gamble at this point… That would be my bet

    1. Those are my thoughts too. In a way, Red Bull’s Honda decision has opened up the position of the no.1 Renault engined driver. Ricciardo is definitely better than Hulkenburg as well.

      Good for F1 to have Lewis, Sebastian, Max and Daniel as the foremost drivers for the 4 engine manufacturers.

  11. When Mercedes signed Hamilton, the fundaments for their future dominance were already set up e.g. the work on the new hybrid engine was well underway. Obviously no one could know for sure if it was going to work out but Ross Brawn could convince Hamilton that this was a risk worth taking. I doubt if McLaren can now show Ricciardo something similar. They have been struggling for six years in a row with three different engines under very different engine and chassis rules, despite always having a decent budget and a superstar driver at the team. That suggests something is wrong with the way the team is run. So unless Ricciardo is a fan of Russian roulette or cares only about money, he should look somewhere else.

    1. It’s funny how many people are now of the opinion that Mercedes were looking good for the future when Lewis Hamilton signed with them. A cursory glance at any article (and especially the accompanying comments) from that time period shows just how much of a stark contrast the opinions were in comparison. It was mostly comments about greed, ingratitude and stupidity, coupled with wagers he’d never win another race, let alone another championship.

      1. Alonso said Lewis would ‘win races’ with Merc as soon as he went there. They had previously been the best team at China and Monaco iirc.

      2. For the record, I was not among the naysayers back then :) https://www.racefans.net/2012/09/12/hamilton-focus-2013-f1-driver-market/#comment-1065135 But my predictions have often been wrong, too – that is not the point. It is rather a matter of reasonable expectations. In 2012, Hamilton had to choose between two seemingly sensible options. But what would make Ricciardo believe today that McLaren and Red Bull have roughly equal chances of winning the world championship over the next years?

        1. @girts That was a nice prediction back in 2012. Nice to know not everyone was doom and gloom.

  12. He’s not going anywhere, just trying to get better terms on his contract by flirting with other teams.

  13. What choice. McLaren may help him get more money from RedBull but if he wants to win RedBull are the only choice as McLaren are chasing Williams hard in a race to the bottom to win The Death of the Garagisti Trophy.

  14. It seems like Ferrari is off the table, as they’re ready to commit to Leclerc apparently.

  15. YellowSubmarine
    22nd June 2018, 2:34

    I think RBR have treated him very shabbily. Good on him, let him go.

  16. Hamilton hasn’t re-signed….yet. No one knows what’s in Hamiltons head so it’s going to be an interesting month or two.

  17. I would really try to go to Ferrari if I was him. Old buddy Seb would be a good team-mate.
    Don’t think Mercedes will drop Bottas for him.

  18. Daniel Webber

Comments are closed.