Daniel Ricciardo does not think he would still be a Red Bull driver now even if he had not decided to jump ship to Renault in 2019.
The Australian called time on his Red Bull career as the 2018 season drew to a close, knowing Max Verstappen was the team’s big hope for the future.
He joined Renault for a two-year spell that did not yield the results he had been hoping for, the highlights being a pair of third places in the autumn of 2020.
Now Ricciardo has moved on to McLaren, where he hopes to add to the seven F1 race victories he achieved for Red Bull and eventually fulfil his ultimate ambition of becoming World Champion.
The way in which the 31-year-old’s career has evolved since leaving Red Bull has prompted thoughts from outside about whether he should have stayed put, especially considering the team now look serious challengers to both of Mercedes’ titles.
However, Ricciardo could not have seen himself sticking around for another three years had the offer from Renault not come along when it did.
“I got asked the other day, looking at Red Bull this year, looking like they can fight for a championship, do you think you still would have been there,” said Ricciardo during an interview with EFTM.
“I said even if I hadn’t moved that year, if I had stayed with Red Bull instead of Renault, by now I would have moved. I couldn’t have seen myself spending another three years there.
“Regardless of whether I went to Renault or not, I still didn’t see myself at Red Bull in 2021.”
Ricciardo’s move to McLaren has not exactly got off to a flyer for he has been outscored 27-14 in points by his team-mate Lando Norris so far this season, but he hopes to make steps forward in his competitiveness at this week’s Portuguese Grand Prix as he continues settling in with the team.
“This sounds really conservative, but progress,” said Ricciardo when asked about his hopes and goals for the race at Portimao.
“Regardless of my position, I want to leave Portugal with a bit more of a spring in my step.
“I left Imola a bit flat. I still knew there was a lot of work to do, so I want to leave Portugal feeling like I’ve ticked a few more boxes.”