Mark Webber has revealed he told his Red Bull replacement Daniel Ricciardo not to leave the team when his compatriot starting looking at his options for the 2019 season.
The Honey Badger opted not to heed his advice and moved to Renault, that it has been suggested was the first year in what became a long four-year goodbye.
Signed by Red Bull for the 2014 season, Ricciardo stepped up to replace Webber after he’d called time on his Formula 1 career, with Red Bull’s newest Aussie driver going onto win seven races with the Milton Keynes squad.
Mark Webber: I was keen for him to stay in Red Bull
But twice finishing third in the standings and watching as Max Verstappen emerged as Red Bull’s star driver, Ricciardo decided to seek pastures new.
He signed with Renault only to agree a deal with McLaren early on in his second season with the Enstone team. His move to McLaren wasn’t any more successful because, even though he added an eighth F1 victory to his tally with a win at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, he largely struggled and wasn’t able to understand why.
Two years after joining McLaren, he walked away from the Formula 1 grid having agreed to leave the team two years into his three year deal.
Webber reckons he should never have left Red Bull, and in fact told Ricciardo just that back in 2018.
“I was keen for him to stay in Red Bull,” Webber reportedly ITV. “I think he knows that all those years ago I was trying to talk him into staying.
“But, obviously, he was keen to go to Renault at the time and then he went to McLaren.”
Ricciardo will return to the track at this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix with the 34-year-old impressing Red Bull during his recent Silverstone tyre test, so much so the team reportedly sacked Nyck de Vries an hour later to make room for the Aussie.
“He’s had a year out and now he’s back,” Webber added. “The stopwatch never lies, you’re either giving pressure or you’re taking pressure.
“So now he’s back on the grid and obviously, he’s got to step up against (teammate) Yuki (Tsunoda) pretty quickly and hopefully he can perform well.”
Meanwhile Webber’s former team-mate, Sebastian Vettel, who was also Ricciardo’s back in 2014 in the Aussie’s first season with Red Bull, has reiterated he’s happy to see his friend return to racing.
“I’m very happy for Daniel, very happy,” said the four-time World Champion. “I like him, obviously, I raced with him, and I met him at the test when I was shaking down the  McLaren for this weekend. “And I’m very, very happy for him.”
But, he reckons de Vries’ axing, just 10 races into his first season with AlphaTauri, was brutal.
“On the other hand, you have to be honest as well,” continued the German. “It’s obviously a shame for Nyck, the way it comes to an end. I think he was given a great chance.
“Maybe things didn’t happen for him the way he expected, or people expected. But it’s also a bit harsh when it comes to a very sudden stop like that. It’s brutal.”