Huge Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull contract revelation with juicy details released

Sam Cooper
Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo left Red Bull at the end of the 2018 season.

Christian Horner has revealed Red Bull were willing to almost double Daniel Ricciardo’s salary in an effort to stop him moving to Renault in 2019.

Ricciardo had long been a member of the Red Bull family, first as a junior and then driver for Toro Rosso and later Red Bull, which made his move to Renault all the more shocking.

The Australian departed a team that had finished P3 in the 2018 standings for one that finished P4 and 297 points behind in a decision that left Honer wondering if Ricciardo was “taking the piss”.

Daniel Ricciardo’s huge Red Bull offer direct from the top

In 2018, Red Bull had a driver pairing of Ricciardo alongside the fresh faced Max Verstappen but with the latter starting to show how good he really is, Ricciardo was beginning to feel he was being overshadowed.

The then 29-year-old decided to leave Red Bull but for a moment it appeared as if he was certain to say.

Speaking to the eff won with DRS podcast, Horner revealed that Red Bull were willing to match the $10 million contract they had just given Verstappen.

“So we gave Max a contract at the beginning of that year in 2018 to secure his future,” Horner said.

“Daniel, I remember being upset at the time. He suddenly felt that ‘hang on, I don’t want to be the support act here.’ And I could tell he was starting to think of being a bigger fish in a smaller pond. He got a lot of noise in his ear and that this is the money that is also on the table [from other teams].

“But I remember I spoke to to our owner Dietrich Mateschitz before the Austrian Grand Prix, and I said ‘it’s looking a bit marginal with Daniel, can you just show him some love? Because you know, Helmut [Marko], obviously very pro Max. But I think if you could just balance things out, just let him know that you want him.’

“‘No problem. I’ll speak to him.’ So he took him upstairs after the race in Austria and they were gone for well over an hour and then they re-emerged, they reappeared both with smiles on their faces.

“Dietrich comes up to me, I said ‘well, how did it go?’ And he said ‘no problem. It’s not even a question.’

“I said: ‘Well, what did you agree with him?’ He said: ‘I said, we’ll give him whatever Max is on.’

“I was like, ‘Wow, do you know what we pay Max?’ And so I gave him the number and he said ‘who the f**k agreed to that?’ And I said ‘Well, you?'”

Despite Mateschitz’s shock at the figure leaving the company bank account, he stuck to his word and offered Ricciardo the same deal, something it appears the Australian would agree to.

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Ricciardo was then spooked when his engine, made by Renault, exploded in Germany and Horner said the Australian then wanted to cut his new deal from two years to one, which Red Bull also agreed to.

“Then he was doing a test for us after the Hungarian race and it was like, Daniel will sign the paperwork on Monday. And suddenly Monday goes and he’s in the car on Tuesday. And I’m saying that I’m starting to smell a little bit of a rat here, because this is an enormous [contract], you’d have thought he’d have been in a rush to sign.

“He didn’t sign it before he got in the car in the morning and then now he’s gonna sign out at lunchtime, and that didn’t happen. And then he’s had to get out the car and go straight to the airport because he’s flying here to LA. He’ll call you when he gets to LA.

“So he rings me and he’s like ‘I’ve just got off the plane. I’ve been thinking on the flight on the way here. I’m not going to sign the contract. I’m going to take another contract.’

“I was like ‘wow, okay, have Mercedes or Ferrari come through with something?’ And he went ‘no, I’m going to sign for Renault.”

Christian Horner could barely believe Daniel Ricciardo Renault move

The decision to leave a team fighting for wins and podiums to one way down the grid was one that shocked Horner, to the extent that he thought the good humoured Ricciardo was pulling his leg.

“Because Daniel’s got a sense of humour, I was convinced he’s taking the piss here.

“‘You’re not going to Renault, stop f**king about, just tell me when you are going to sign that contract.’ So after about 10 minutes, he finally persuaded me that he was gonna go to Renault and it was disappointing.”

Horner claims that Ricciardo eventually went on to regret that decision.

“It actually was during the pandemic year, Daniel called me and he said ‘Christian, I hate to say this but you were absolutely right. And I apologise and all that and so on.’

“We just kept in touch, we’ve always had a good relationship. He’s a good guy. He was just badly advised at the time.”

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