Daniel Ricciardo has opened up on his decision to switch from Red Bull to Renault, revealing that there “wasn’t a big difference” in the financial value of their offers.
Ricciardo’s shock move to the factory Renault F1 Team was announced just over a year ago, raising eyebrows given the gap between the two teams in the Formula 1 pecking order.
There has been widespread speculation that the West Australian achieved a big salary uplift out of the deal, although he has explained that there were several factors which played on his mind.
Ricciardo claimed that there was in fact not a great disparity between the financials of the offers from Renault and Red Bull Racing.
“Obviously I can’t talk numbers or anything, but Red Bull did okay; that wasn’t a big difference in the end,” he said when asked how much money was a factor in his decision.
“It wasn’t a deciding factor, put it that way.”
Ricciardo also refuted suggestions that favouritism towards Max Verstappen, who was already signed on to remain at Red Bull Racing until the end of 2020, played a significant part in his move.
“Probably not as heavy as people think, because I think it was talked about more than I saw,” was his response to questions about how heavily the apparent favouritism weighed on his mind.
“On-track, it was always… I can’t really tell you a time where he got a new floor and I didn’t or anything like that.
“As far as parts went, the team was pretty good at development so we always had equal number, really. It wasn’t really that, I guess.”
The 29-year-old had narrowed his options down to Renault and Red Bull by the time he made his decision, having also had talks with McLaren.
He said that concerns about Red Bull’s impending switch from Renault engines to the then unproven Honda powerplants, coupled with the Milton Keynes team’s insistence on a two-year deal, did help push him towards the Renault factory team.
“I won’t lie, I definitely spoke to them (McLaren) for a bit,” confirmed Ricciardo.
“If I’m being serious about the contenders, it was those three, but at this point (of a final decision) it was just Renault and Red Bull.
“At the time, I think (Red Bull) wanted a longer term deal and I wanted a shorter one, because I had some reservations with how the Honda would be.
“So, even with Red Bull it wasn’t like ‘This is everything; yes or no?’, there was still some negotiating going on even kind of around this time.
“At times I was pushing for one year with Red Bull, but then I was like, ‘Er, one year doesn’t sound smart.’
“It was going to be two here (Renault) or two there (Red Bull).”
Ricciardo was also set to split from engineer Simon Rennie regardless of whether he remained with Red Bull or left, with the Brit shifting to a factory role.
That was a factor which Ricciardo specifically identified himself as influencing his decision.
“Again, there were a lot of reasons, but losing Simon Rennie… I knew he wasn’t going to engineer this year if I stayed at Red Bull,” added the winner of seven F1 races, all with Red Bull.
“I felt I had a really good relationship with him and there were some unknowns as well, not knowing who I was going to have.
“I was certainly comfortable with him. If I knew he stayed, I don’t know if that would have been the deciding factor, but it was another…
“Obviously when you’ve got the Honda unknown and a few others, I guess that was another thing.”