Red Bull Racing have confirmed that Daniel Ricciardo will leave the team at the end of 2018.
The Red Bull Racing team have confirmed that Daniel Ricciardo will leave the team at the end of the current season after five years with them.
A statement from Red Bull boss Christian Horner said
“We fully respect Daniel’s decision to leave Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and we wish him all the best in his future. We would like to thank him for his dedication and the role he has played since joining the Team in 2014, the highlights of course being the seven wins and the 29 podiums he has achieved so far with us.
“We will now continue to evaluate the numerous options available to us before deciding on which driver partners Max Verstappen for the 2019 season. In the meantime, there are still nine races left in 2018 and we are fully focused on maximising every opportunity for Max and Daniel for the remainder of the season.”
According to reports, Ricciardo is set to join the Renault team alongside Nico Hulkenberg.
This would suggest that the Australian driver is not convinced by the strength of the upcoming Red Bull/Honda partnership, as Red Bull leave Renault power units behind at the end of this year to swap to the Japanese manufacturer. With Renault being an up and coming team in their own right, Ricciardo may be thinking the long game in terms of the sweeping regulation changes coming up in two years time.
Red Bull are yet to announce who will replace the Australian. Max Verstappen is nailed down at the team for 2019, while his former Toro Rosso teammate Carlos Sainz is the most obvious candidate. Sainz is on loan to the Renault team from Red Bull for this year but will be without a seat should the Ricciardo/Renault rumours play out. He remains under option for Red Bull, but his contract conditions are understood to be written to only be kept on by Red Bull should he be given a seat at the senior team. However, Sainz & Verstappen apparently didn’t work well together as teammates at Toro Rosso, meaning Red Bull may release him and promote Pierre Gasly from Toro Rosso. Sainz has been strongly linked with McLaren, replacing Stoffel Vandoorne.
This may yet save Brendon Hartley’s career, as Red Bull don’t really look as though they have anyone in a lower category ready to jump up to Formula 1.