Daniel Ricciardo’s desire for a change of scenery and routine lay behind his unexpected decision to leave Red Bull for Renault next year, the Australian said yesterday.
Speaking at a news conference ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, Ricciardo denied there was any kind of animosity within Red Bull and he had not fallen out with anyone.
“I never said I was unloved,” he said, in response to one question. “It was more just the routine, going to the same factory year after year. I felt it made my enjoyment for the sport a bit numb at times.
“To be clear, there was no falling out, no bad blood with anyone in the team, the bosses or anyone.”
Ricciardo’s decision, announced during Formula One’s European summer holiday, came as a shock to Red Bull and most paddock observers.
He added that his relationship with Dutch tyro Max Verstappen had not played any part in his decision, saying that the pair had got on much better than news media reports had suggested.
“I guess I got to a point where I felt I was ready for a change,” he said.
“I was ready for a new challenge and for me personally some fresh motivation. Honda still need to really prove themselves at the front, but there wasn’t one key factor other than really myself and wanting to have a change of scenery.
“It wasn’t necessarily the engine deal or finances. It was a long thought process for sure,” said Ricciardo. “I took my time with it, by no means an easy decision at all.
“I guess I got to a point where I felt I was ready for a change, that was the long and short of it, I was ready for a new challenge, for me personally some fresh motivation.
“That sounds easy saying it like that, but it wasn’t easy. I had a few sleepless nights for sure trying to come up with the best conclusion for myself.
“Once I made that decision and pulled the trigger I felt comfortable with it and it feels right for next year.... Five years with Red Bull Racing, 10 years with the company -obviously it’s been amazing and great, I felt like now is that time to take on something new.
“So that was pretty much how it all ended, or how my decision came.” Ricciardo will be replaced at Red Bull by Toro Rosso’s Frenchman Pierre Gasly.