Daniel Ricciardo defends his decision to leave Red Bull at end of 2018 season

Jamie Woodhouse
Christian Horner and Daniel Ricciardo embrace. Monaco, May 2018.

Christian Horner and Daniel Ricciardo embrace after the latter won the Monaco Grand Prix. Monaco, May 2018.

Daniel Ricciardo said he does not look back on his Red Bull exit with regret, even though it has not exactly paid off.

As tensions began to rise between he and Max Verstappen, Ricciardo made the decision to leave Red Bull at the end of 2018, the Aussie having joined the team in 2014 following his graduation from Toro Rosso.

But stints that followed with Renault and McLaren saw Ricciardo fighting in the midfield for the majority, bringing just one race win at the 2021 Italian GP with McLaren.

But with overall poor performance cutting short his McLaren career, it would be perfectly understandable if Ricciardo looked back to that decisions to leave Red Bull and ponders what might have been, the team having eased to a title double in 2022.

As it turns out though, there is no sense of regret, Ricciardo standing by his choice to take a “gamble”.

Asked on the Beyond the Grid podcast if he thinks about what might have been at Red Bull, Ricciardo replied: “I don’t look at it like that, because nothing is sure.

“If I stayed there the last four years, could I say I would have had more podiums than I’ve had? What have I had, maybe three or something? Yeah, I’m confident to say I would have had more podiums than I’ve had.

“But you just don’t know. Obviously at the time I felt like it was right for me. I felt like I needed a change and I needed to kind of just remove myself a bit. If I continued [at Red Bull], would that urge have grown? Would I have become, let’s say, more curious or less happy, or whatever?

“It’s not a sure thing that it would have been great if I stayed. I don’t look back and say, ‘Man, I shouldn’t have [left]’. But, of course, I can be honest with myself and say, ‘Yeah, I took a little bit of a gamble on myself’.

“I still feel like the Renault [move] was pretty good, especially 2020 – [that was] one of the best seasons I’ve driven in F1. To get the team back on the podium, I was very proud of that.

“But obviously the McLaren one, even with the win… the win was a high and I can’t remove that, I can’t ignore that. I can look and say, ‘I tried as well with this one [and] it didn’t quite work out’.

“You live and you learn, but I don’t look back with regret. I just say, ‘Okay, it was a challenge I took on, and it didn’t work out how I hoped’.”

Daniel Ricciardo may find that his career comes full circle

To a certain extent, it already has, since he is now back under contract with Red Bull as a reserve driver following his McLaren exit.

We are not scheduled to see the Honey Badger too often though, as he will only be at a handful of races in 2023, with media and marketing making up a large part of his role.

Nonetheless, there could be an opening in the Red Bull line-up over the next few years. Sergio Perez is contracted until the end of 2024, but it is never easy up against Verstappen, and there are still question marks over their relationship after the Brazil dramas.

So, even if Ricciardo does not feel as though he needs a shot at redemption with Red Bull, he may get it anyway.

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