Daniel Ricciardo has announced he will be leaving Red Bull to join the team’s engine supplier Renault at the end of the season. The announcement by the teams came from Red Bull and means that Carlos Sainz will leave the French manufacturer.
The Australian said “It was probably one of the most difficult decisions to take in my career so far. But I thought that it was time for me to take on a fresh and new challenge.”
“I realise that there is a lot ahead in order to allow Renault to reach their target of competing at the highest level but I have been impressed by their progression in only two years, and I know that each time Renault has been in the sport they eventually won. I hope to be able to help them in this journey and contribute on and off track.”
Ricciardo will replace Carlos Sainz alongside Nico Hulkenberg, Red Bull loaned Sainz to Renault at the end of last season. Renault’s F1 managing director, Cyril Abiteboul said “Daniel’s signing underscores our determination to accelerate our progress towards the forefront of the sport. It is also a recognition of the work accomplished over the past two and a half seasons.”
“Daniel’s undoubted talent and charisma are a huge bonus and statement for the team. We will have to repay his faith in us by delivering the best car possible. We welcome him to our growing team in 2019 with a great deal of pride, but also humility.”
Once Lewis Hamilton signed his contract, Ricciardo was seen as the next major piece in the drier market. Now the question then is what happens to Sainz, now that Red Bull has a seat free they need to make the call whether to put him in a race seat with one of their teams.
Ricciardo, who has won in China and Monaco this year, had been linked with Mercedes and Ferrari, while McLaren and Renault both held talks with him.
This news comes after his teammate Max Verstappen signed a long-term, multi-million-pound deal last season. Renault, who returned to the sport in 2016, has not won a race since 2009. But they have been slowly rebuilding the team, after buying out the Lotus team.
The team had also been in negotiations with Mercedes, trying to buy the contract of Esteban Ocon. Ocon now faces an uncertain future after his Force India team went into administration last Friday.
On Tuesday Ricciardo had indicated a new deal with Red Bull was imminent.
But his switch to Renault scuppers expectations Esteban Ocon was on the cusp of moving to the French team in 2019 from Force India. That, in turn, has seemingly put a block on predictions Lance Stroll will leave Williams for Force India at the end of 2019.
This will also impact George Russell, who currently leads the Formula Two championship.