Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

Ricciardo denies leaving Red Bull to get away from Verstappen

2019 F1 season

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Daniel Ricciardo says he did not leave Red Bull because he didn’t want to continue being Max Verstappen’s team mate.

Verstappen joined Red Bull in 2016. While Ricciardo out-scored him in their first two seasons as team mates, Verstappen took most of the team’s points last year and increasingly out-qualified Ricciardo. The pair also collided in Baku last year, putting both drivers out.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has been reported as saying Ricciardo’s decision to leave the team was motivated by a desire to avoid going up against Verstappen. However speaking in an interview with EFTM, Ricciardo denied this was the case.

“I’m sure he’s probably not the only one to have that opinion. I can see how people might want to think that or say that. Everyone has an opinion, and that hasn’t been pulled out of nowhere. It is what it is. I obviously say ‘no, not true’. I love a good fight.”

Ricciardo said his decision to join Renault “was more about me than Max.”

“I was at Red Bull for five years, they’ve won four world titles and I joined straight after that. So in five years looking from that first year I’m like ‘OK, in five years I’m going to win a world title, it’s going to happen’.

[smr0901]”It didn’t. We never really got close. And I’m not bitter about it, it’s what happened. And then it was now ‘OK we’re going to try and rebuild a new chapter with Honda’. I saw there was more risks for me staying and that project failing again, so to speak.

“The ability for me to become more frustrated in this environment, I just saw it as too high. And I don’t want to be that unhappy, bitter person that’s just always ‘what could’ve been’ or ‘if only I’d joined Red Bull in 2013’. That sort of thing.

“So it wasn’t about Max, I understand how somebody might think that but they’re wrong.”

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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...

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41 comments on “Ricciardo denies leaving Red Bull to get away from Verstappen”

  1. Methinks the lady doth protest too much

    1. I don’t think he was scared to go up against Verstappen.

      But, I think it was also that he could see the top bosses prioritising Verstappen as the next “Wunderkind”.

      So if he stayed, whether he beat Verstappen on merit or not, it would become another Webber/Vettel situation.

      I think he needed a fresh challenge….whether it works out or not….I think he is great asset/personality for F1.

      1. @mach1, as you note, Ricciardo has indicated that his main problem was not with Verstappen, or even with the majority of those within the team – the problems are with Red Bull’s most senior managers and, if Webber’s description of what the atmosphere within the team is true, most probably with Marko.

        Back then, Webber has said that his problem wasn’t with Vettel, but the way in which Marko would manipulate and use Vettel to get at Webber – rather than trying to calm things between the drivers, Marko was driving much of the conflict between Vettel and Webber. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an element of that behaviour going on with Ricciardo and Verstappen, with Marko again playing the latter against the former – only for it to backfire when Ricciardo turned out to have more options than Marko thought he had.

        1. Funny enough Ricciardo is now quite clear to why he left and Verstappen was not a main reason….neither did he anywhere mention Helmut Marko…. though suggestions are already flying …

          It seems Honda was his main reason and probably the need to chance scenery.

          Vettel/Wbber was as logoc as Schumacher/Barichello, Hamilton/Bottas and Verstappen/Ricciardo was in the making.
          Speed up if you want to be the first man in the team…it’s the only cure.

          1. @Matn So well said. There is plainly and simply no evidence nor even appearance that DR was disfavoured alongside Max, and indeed several posters around here have enjoyed hammering home to me how DR ‘beat’ Max in 16, 17, and for half of 2018, so I have to wonder where they get off also saying DR was secondary on the team.

            As to positive remarks towards Max from Horner and Marko…talking up this mega driver is natural and expected, and they are in an enviable position by having him. Of course they are going to sing his praises. Why wouldn’t they? Because they might offend an armchair fan who will take praise of Max to automatically mean a sweeping of DR under the carpet?

          2. Probably a good thing to not mention marko in anyway. Ricciardo still has many years left in f1 and if renault can’t improve then ricciardo’s next team move could be going back to red bull. That move obviously won’t happen if marko doesn’t like you.

          3. It was clearly the environment within the team. Max, although fast, is a bull in a china shop. RIC is not quite as fast but all around the safer bet for bringing the car home in one piece – better all around hands down.

            Of course RBR wanted to keep RIC but they think VER is the surer bet to bring them championships such as VET did and made it known he is the future. RIC saw what WEB went through and decided he didn’t want to end up the same way.

            To think he would leave because of Honda is BS, especially considering Renault’s engine is not on par with Merc or Ferrari.

            Now RBR is stuck with 2 drivers, who are both immature. Gasly appears to be struggling already. Marko and Horner will have a wild ride this year for sure.

          4. BlackJackFan
            1st March 2019, 6:29

            Dear Robbie… you’re still being unnecessarily over-protective to your boy, Max, and again (deliberately?) misunderstanding what most people are currently saying about Ric and RBR… which is: not that Ric was dissatisfied with the different treatment he has received, but that he is/was likely to receive different treatment from 2019 onwards…
            Try reading and understanding what people like “anon” are saying, and refrain from jumping to conclusions over all the other commenters, whose opinions you don’t like…
            I’m sure you’ll sleep better… ;-)

          5. @BlackJackFan I just like to sell my opinions with what I think are valid points, so don’t mistake this for losing sleep or blood pressure issues as you say below in another response to me. This is enjoyable banter to me. That you think I am taking this that seriously tells me I am doing a reasonable job of selling my opinion.

            As to the speculation of how DR would have been treated in 2019, I don’t see how there is any evidence of that, especially since you have admitted it is not about the treatment he has received. Not sure why it would have been any different for this season. If anything it would have just been a continuation of more of the same, which had DR fully allowed and capable of competing with Max in exactly the same equipment.

          6. BlackJackFan
            2nd March 2019, 1:46

            Hi Robbie, glad your health isn’t suffering – yet ;-) – but although you are the best (only?) judge of your intentions you cannot be the best judge of how you come across to others; ergo(?), your naive belief that people are actually buying your potentially obsessional trolling… Take care, old chum… ;-)
            [PPS, your non-pro-Max comments are more interesting…]

  2. Seems 50-50 to me. 50% concern about Red Bull-Honda’s future and knowing Renault having effectively the same percentage chance of championship progress and 50% concern that if Red Bull-Honda comes good he’d lose in a straight fight to Verstappen and figures he’d have an easier time beating Hulkenberg. I mean with that kind of thinking I’d have gone to Renault too – nothing more to lose and potentially more to gain. I think he’s telling the truth, but not all of it.

  3. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong, but I formulated the opinion late last year that Red Bull were only going to go backwards.* It was based on what I considered to be some pretty sound rationale, including the looming partnership with Honda, and the likely resurgence of Renault (a manufacturer team with World Championship-winning pedigree) and McLaren. Yes, Daniel leaving Red Bull is/was a risk, but I would’ve done the same thing–irrespective of what my teammate was at the time, given how the last five seasons had panned out. I buy his explanation.

    *Or rather, the midfield catches up.

  4. Horner as usual , whatever he talks is just a trash.

  5. He didn’t got away from Verstappen. He got away from Red Bull that has an history of favouring one driver over another. Even when Ric was ahead in the championship NOBODY can deny that attention RB was favouring Verstappen. He did the right move. Now performance wise, was a gamble, but on both parties.

    1. In what way Mauro, did RBR favour Verstappen….?
      Attention isn;t making a driver faster…. the only thing a 2nd driver has to do is get ahead of the 1st driver…something Ricciardo wasn’t capable of… already after 2016.

      Ricciardo explained his reasons, it was merely the risk of the Honda partnership what spooked him, the team has treated him like any other team would. in 2018 no driver received special treatment… Baku was the proove of that.

      1. In every way. We have seen it all before. Why would it be different this time? One-eye has his favorite in every line-up we have seen at Red Bull so far.

    2. And how did they favor verstappen?
      Even Danny denies those story’s!

    3. @mauromori That too. The Baku incident proved Red Bull’s clear favoritism.

      But I still think it was also to get away from being beaten by Verstappen. This way he can shine with the odd brilliant drive to attract Ferrari or Mercedes.

      1. Not to mention, a team that is sitting in a sole third place in the WCC is in no need whatsoever of designating a 1 and 2 driver. What would be the point? A team unable to contend for the two big trophies needs both drivers working together well and cooperatively to advance the team and especially the car. Without the WCC cars there is no WDC. And MV and DR had a great working relationship and seemed to always get along, and when they clashed they got over it quickly.

  6. I think the fact that Horner would come out and have a dig at Ricciardo just weeks away from the start of the GP season again shows the the toxic atmosphere that did and probably still exits in RB.

    1. @johnrkh From what I can surmise through googling, it would seem Horner made these remarks while they were filming for the Netflix series last year, so…no, I don’t believe in this ‘toxic’ atmosphere you claim, nor that it is a ‘fact’ Horner has said this weeks before this season starts.

      1. Doesn’t that make it worse though that Horner would say these things while Dan was still in the team?!

  7. There sometimes comes a point in working for a company when momentum shifts and any kind of belief you have in the direction or purpose of the company goes away (particularly in tech companies which must innovate or die). At that point, it’s best to seek a new environment or your feeling about your job gets stale and toxic, which has a heavy impact on your own morale. (I find myself at just such a juncture. :/)

    I never thought I’d see DR screaming in frustration at his car failing, given his upbeat disposition and ability to roll with the punches. The repeated failures had clearly robbed him of his usual enthusiasm and optimism. Moving to Honda looked like a much bigger gamble at the time with the prospect of backsliding at least for a season or two a probability. Renault have come back to the sport in the past and built championships impressively when they put their minds to it, so a year or two is not impossible for them. I think in reality he was hoping for a Ferrari or Mercedes seat, and neither materialized, but he still needed out.

    1. @lunaslide Well said. Found myself at that juncture about 5 years ago, not long after new owners took over the company I repped for.

    2. @lunaslide @robbie According to Mathew Carter ex Lotus manager, after Verstappen was given his pay rise and extended contract. Ricciardo went to RB management Marko/Horner with his request. He asked for less money than Verstappen and was willing to put up with the one sided treatment in favour of Verstappen. He was rewarded with a blunt no, basically being told that he should be happy with what he has.
      The story goes that he was very upset at being treated so shabbily. So he made the call, the rest is history. He made his announcement about moving to Renault. Suddenly the reliability of his car went off a cliff and his season turned to crap. Meanwhile RB was acting all shocked and hurt while making stupid public remarks about how they had offered him everything he had asked for. They said they had no idea why he left, when in fact they knew very well and were lying threw their teeth.
      As I said then they Marko/Horner acted very unprofessionally at the time and it seems they just can’t let go.

      1. @johnrkh You’re right, I recall a little of this. That’s definitely enough to sour a person on their team. Horner’s repeated quips about asking Riccardo about going to Renault after his car failed, multiple times, was also bad form, even if it was Renault’s fault, and it didn’t sound like all of those failures were.

        If all that is true, I think it speaks volumes in favor of Riccardo’s class in not talking about all of it and just saying he needed a change of scenery. He might not have had better options after the window for Mercedes and Ferrari closed, but it was a mistake for Horner/Marko to assume that he didn’t have *any* other options.

      2. @johnrkh Not buying any that. Nothing of it makes any sense. And…I do think they have let go. I pointed out to you above, the remarks referred to in this article coming from Horner were from last year when they were filming the Netflix series.

        So Max re-signs mid-2017, at which point DR goes to them for more money and agrees to be number 2? As if. Gets told no? Makes the call? The rest is history and he goes to Renault? The timeline makes no sense at all. So DR has been disgruntled for the rest of 2017 until just before the summer break of 2018 when he then surprises the whole circus, not just RBR with his last minute decision to go to Renault? When did he make the call? Last year? Everyone was sure if he left it would be for Ferrari or Mercedes. When that dried up everyone was sure he’d stay.

        There is absolutely no way that the rest of the media and other F1 insiders would have not known for almost a year that DR was ticked and going to move. The other ridiculous thing is the suggestion that they then sabotaged DR’s car repeatedly. What rubbish. This is schoolyard rumour mongering and there is nothing in DR or anyone else’s verbiage or body language or mood that has suggested anything but a pretty happy family there, and one that DR said was his most difficult decision to leave. Hey I get that they could all be acting, but not that well for that long, and at this point this would all be public knowledge by now given how much the media learns through the grapevine. They often know ahead of time of much of what goes on.

        1. @robbie This happened over a period of a few days. That is why it caught other drivers and teams out to such a degree. Most of the deals had been settled by the winter break then this last minute decision by Ricciardo caused a little bit of kaos.
          I may have over stated that Ricciardo was prepared to except the one sided treatment. More likely I think is that Ricciardo asked for equal treatment and was told no.
          RB really thought that Ricciardo had no where else to go, they treated him disrespectfully and got caught out. The teams reaction absolutely reflects this. There are statements in the public forum from Marko previous to Ricciardos decision attesting to RBs attitude towards him. Horners continued sniping only reinforces what most know.

          1. @johnrkh Still makes no sense. What few days are we talking about? You haven’t explained the alleged timeline on this whatsoever. DR made some ‘last minute decision’ before the off season of 2017? What chaos happened that fall?

            And ‘you’ have overstated…? I thought this was coming from this Matthew Carter person, not you. Now your story has already changed. As if they refused him equal treatment. He has been able to lead Max up until half way through 2018. Where are these ‘statements in the public forum’ attesting to RB’s attitude? Perhaps provide those. Your last sentence continues to ignore that Horner has not ‘continued’ sniping, for his last remarks seem to be from last year. What exactly has Horner said very recently? Why are you so intent on inventing this alleged ‘continued sniping?’

            Sorry but your changing and vague story holds no water and belongs in a tabloid.

        2. @robbie Obviously your very upset, lets just leave it.

          1. @johnrkh Lol ya I knew you’d have nothing more to substantiate this fluff. Nice try putting it on me and my ‘upset’ though.

          2. BlackJackFan
            1st March 2019, 14:45

            Robbie, dear… Give it a rest… Think of your blood-pressure… Maybe not so much now… but when you get older it’ll be too late… Regardless of whatever ‘facts’ you or anyone else states it does seem you get overly upset about all this… and maybe denying it is part of the problem rather than the solution.
            It’s just F1 – not a cure for cancer… ;-)

          3. @BlackJackFan See my response to you above where you respond to me similarly.

  8. Poor Ricciardo, even in spring testing he can’t escape stupid Verstappen questions.

    How he handles these question only raises his stock in my game… he is nothing like the petulant child Verstappen is.

    1. I’m sure DR can handle himself very well, and it is only natural that he is going to be asked about his move, as it is one of the big stories of 2018. He’s being honest, so it is likely easy for him to answer the questions. The questions will diminish as he settles into Renault when the season officially starts. Of course, if Renault seems to not be very competitive he’ll continue to be asked if he regrets the move, or if they do really well he’ll be asked how glad he is he made the move.

      Meanwhile, I sense that Max is on a new chapter too, and even if he was a ‘petulant child’ I think those days are gone other than from those who simply dislike him and want to describe him that way. Those in the know have described him as mature beyond his years.

      1. Those who watch think otherwise.

  9. Why does everyone assume Ricardo would be beaten by Max? I personally think the challenge of Max would have made Ricardo a better driver – like Rosberg did with Hamilton. Also I would have begun to loose faith in RB after many failures and then RB turn to engine supplier with an even worse track record….. I would have jumped ship too. Trouble is though if Renault only make mediocre car for the next few seasons Ricardo career will be over as he won’t raise his game to next level he needs to be world champ – he needs a championship car or competition from someone like Max…… a big gamble he has taken….

  10. Those in the know have described him as mature beyond his years.

    Do you mean James Key technical director of Torro Rosso? and Coulthard? yeah righto :))

    1. BlackJackFan
      1st March 2019, 14:47


  11. DR beat him 9 or 10 to 3 in terms of outperforming one another in GP-weekends. So definitely not.

  12. Not really no.

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