Daniel Ricciardo had a very tough decision to make during the 2018 season, as his Red Bull contract was running out and F1 seats around him were filling up.
Extending his contract with Red Bull seemed like the most likely option, but Ricciardo was not content with Red Bull’s ‘Honda vision’ and did not want to essentially play second fiddle to Max in the years to come.
He was thus desperately looking for a change and while the Australian would have wanted to move to one of F1’s elite, Ferrari and Mercedes had almost made their decision.
Thus, Ricciardo had to turn to one of the midfield teams, and McLaren and Renault emerged as the two realistic destinations.
Daniel Ricciardo held positive talks with McLaren before signing with Renault for the 2019 season.
— F1Today.net (@F1Today_net) January 18, 2019
— Petr Hlawiczka (@hlawiczka) January 18, 2019
Ricciardo conceded that McLaren matched his personality a little more than Renault, but that performance wise they were way off the mark.
“McLaren, as a group – I had a couple of meetings with them – and I thought they were really cool people,” he said.
“Definitely as personnel I like them a lot. Not that I don’t like Red Bull or anyone else, but I had a really positive vibe with them.
“But obviously, they’ll admit it, they’re just not there yet, and it just seemed probably a bit too optimistic to go there at that point. So that kind of eliminated them.
“Then Renault we were kind of talking to a bit, and eventually it just kind of clicked for me and I was like ‘Alright, so it’s a works team, progress they’ve made is good, it’s two years and a solid deal’.” he added.
With respect to Renault, Ricciardo admitted that the work that they had done for the last few years and everything that they had shown him prior to the move, infused some confidence in him that a move towards F1’s elite could be on.
“I think if it was completely personal then McLaren would have been as attractive as anyone,” Ricciardo confirmed.
“But there was still obviously a big chunk of performance there.
“The presentation and everything that Renault put forward, it seemed… We all know they’ve still got work to do with chassis and engine, but what they showed me, what they’ve done the last two years, when they put it on paper it all added up, and their trajectory seems realistic if that makes sense. It just seemed like it could work.
“It just seemed like the right fit, and I was like ‘You know what? That’s it’. It got to that point as well where what I really felt I just need a change, and just to break the routine, really.” he concluded.
Renault won the ‘best of the rest’ battle last time round, finishing in 4th place in the constructor’s championship. And with Ricciardo leading their charge this time round, one can expect a stiff challenge from Renault.