Ricciardo: Renault move not triggered by fear of Verstappen
Daniel Ricciardo has stated his decision to leave Red Bull for Renault did not come in response to the rising intra-team challenge from Max Verstappen.
The Australian switched teams during the off-season after five years with Red Bull, the company which had supported his junior career and promoted him into Formula 1 with HRT (Hispania Racing Team) in 2011.
It’s prompted a number of insiders, including Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, to suggest Ricciardo is running scared of the head-to-head competition with his former team-mate.
“I can see how people might want to think that or say that,” Ricciardo told EFTM.com.
“Everyone has an opinion, and that hasn’t been pulled out of nowhere. So it is what it is.
“I obviously say, no, not true. I love a good fight. It was more about, put it this way, it’s about me than Max,” he added.
“It was about me, a lot of reasons, but one which I’ve stated a few times. I think some people will understand it, but I was at Red Bull for five years.
“They’d won four world titles, and I joined straight after that. So in five years, looking from that first year, I’m like, ‘Okay, in five years, I’m going to win a world title. It’s going to happen.’ It didn’t. We never really got close.
“I’m not bitter about it, it’s just what happened, it’s the fact of reality.”
Having switched teams the Aussie is now expecting a comparatively difficult year, with little in the way of noteworthy results to show for his efforts in 2019.
“The fact is, until I’m first, I’m probably never gonna be satisfied, so I haven’t set a position,” he admitted.
“I want to make in roads on those top three, those big three teams. So whether that means we’ve caught them by half a second or whether we’ve … I don’t even expect to get into that top three this year.
“I’d love to, but I know, as I said, that gap is quite big now. So if we just make in roads, I’ll be satisfied. I want to feel like I’ve had a positive influence on this team, I’d be very happy with that.
“I want to win yesterday, so to know that I’m not even going to win tomorrow, so to speak, is not easy, but I definitely feel this is, it is the best place that I had looking for my future, if that makes sense,” he added.
“The gap to the top three is big, and you can build a new car in three, four months and do good work, but that’s now that next step, which kind of proves that a good car can become a winning car just through other instant strategy.
“We’re not going to have the speed in the next three weeks. It’s going too be a process, which hopefully doesn’t take years, but it’s going to take a few months for sure.”
The second and final pre-season F1 test of the year got underway in Barcelona yesterday, and continues until Friday.
Teams will then travel to Melbourne for the opening round of the year on March 14-17.