Christian Horner teases ‘badly advised’ Daniel Ricciardo over F1 career choices

Henry Valantine
Christian Horner speaks to Daniel Ricciardo.

Daniel Ricciardo was brought back into the Red Bull fold after his controversial exit in 2018.

Christian Horner believes Daniel Ricciardo was “very badly advised” when he decided to leave Red Bull in 2018, but joked that “everybody f***s up at some point.”

The Australian left Red Bull for Renault as he looked to forge his own path away from the Red Bull stable, with his duel with Max Verstappen becoming an intense one within the team through 2018.

But bar a handful of podiums, his stint at Renault was not as successful, with the team struggling to compete at the front before he moved to McLaren, with two seasons of struggle seeing his contract ended early – prior to rejoining the Red Bull fold as reserve driver.

Christian Horner: Daniel Ricciardo ‘recognised he made a mistake’ leaving Red Bull

Ricciardo got back into the cockpit midway through 2023 after replacing Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri, but Horner said he took no pleasure in seeing the Australian struggle elsewhere, adding it was “horrible” to see his problems at McLaren mount.

Believing him to be a “confidence driver”, the Red Bull team principal believes that Ricciardo is still up there with one of the fastest drivers in Formula 1 when he is on form.

But with the circumstances of his departure from Red Bull having been a surprise to the team at the time, Horner thinks that the advice he got to move to a midfield team in the hope of moving up the grid was the wrong choice to make – as much as hindsight is a wonderful thing.

“Daniel’s a great guy, very badly advised in his earlier career, but everybody f***s up at some point,” Horner told the Eff Won With DRS Podcast.

“I think he recognised that he made a mistake. He had not good advice around him at the point that he left us, and he could see that Max was growing, and probably didn’t realise just how good he was going to be.

“Having spent a few years outside of the family, he suddenly realised that ‘whoa, actually, what I had was really good.’

“And it was horrible to see it just get worse and worse and worse, and it was actually this time last year in Mexico that I sat down with him in my hotel room and said: ‘Look, you need a complete reset, take a year out, come back to us, we’ve got a bunch of sponsors and a lot of marketing stuff.’

“He’s another confidence driver, when he’s got his mojo, he is one of the fastest guys on the grid.

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“I remember going to watch him in Formula 3 and so on. He really stood out, very smooth, just great, almost like a Roger Federer kind of style behind the wheel. Very, very classic.

“And then he came through the system. We had Sebastian Vettel, four-time World Champion, Mark Webber retired, we took Daniel as the junior with no expectation on him, and he started kicking Vettel’s arse.

“He won three races in 2014 when we had far from the best engine, and Sebastian never won a race that year.

“[At] Renault, he put in some great performances. And I think, again, he’s another confidence guy.

“He’s got to feel the love, he’s got to feel comfortable in the environment that he’s in and some of his races for us were absolutely outstanding.”

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