Ricciardo will join Nico Hulkenberg as Renault’s F1 drivers.
Ricciardo will join Nico Hulkenberg as Renault’s F1 drivers.

Red Bull ‘afraid’ after Ricciardo snub

ON the surface, Daniel Ricciardo left Red Bull at the end of last year on good terms, but the Aussie superstar's move is still making noise in F1.

Ricciardo's bombshell move to Renault sent shockwaves across the F1 world in a season which saw plenty of changes across the grid.

Ricciardo always seemed to be positive about the move and what the 12-year relationship with Red Bull meant to him.

Red Bull also launched the hashtag #cheersdan and team boss Christian Horner said plenty of nice things, especially after his final race.

"He's been great," Horner said in November. "We've seen him grow from when he first arrived in Europe as a 16-year-old, and his progression through the junior team, through Toro Rosso, into Red Bull Racing, 100 races with us, seven victories.

"He's such a big character as well. We'll miss him, we wish him all the very best for the future but it's been a blast having him in the team."

But between the two teams, the relationship has been far less pleasant.

The pair have traded barbs since Ricciardo announced his decision, with Red Bull questioning Ricciardo's future after numerous reliability and power issues with the Renault engine.

Red Bull also blocked Ricciardo from joining Renault for their Pirelli tyre tests at the end of last year.

Daniel Ricciardo has been in the middle of the Red Bull-Renault squabble.
Daniel Ricciardo has been in the middle of the Red Bull-Renault squabble.

Ricciardo has since been in the Renault factory but won't get to drive his new car until tests in Spain next month.

However, Renault are choosing to look on the positive side as they took a thinly-veiled shot at Red Bull, suggesting the energy drink team is fearful of the French outfit that now has Ricciardo in its ranks.

"He's been in the simulator, he's been with the engineers. It's difficult when he hasn't driven the car," Renault F1 team executive director Marcin Budkowski said.

"We would have loved him to drive the car in Abu Dhabi but we couldn't make that happen.

"We're disappointed that we couldn't get his feedback on last year's car because it would have been very useful to us.

"The fact it didn't happen, without pointing fingers, is quite flattering to us because it means other people are afraid of us and don't want to give us anything that could be a competitive advantage."

Renault are pretty happy with their new team member.

They said earlier in the week they didn't spend a "stupid amount of money" to lure the Aussie over, especially when "our turnover is 40 times the turnover of Red Bull", according to Renault managing director Crytil Abiteboul.

The figure for his two-year deal was reported at $70 million.

But the outfit has been trumpeting Ricciardo's credentials with seven wins and 29 podiums from 150 races.

Ricciardo and Hulkenberg have started a positive relationship.
Ricciardo and Hulkenberg have started a positive relationship.

"He (Ricciardo) is a race winner. He is bringing us an experience that we don't have in the team today," Budkowski said.

"He has been working with a top team for a number of years, so he will bring us some understanding in terms of direction and development of the car, of set-up of the car, which is useful learning for us.

"It has been a huge motivation boost for everyone at the team to have someone like Daniel coming, obviously because he is Daniel, the driver and person he is.

"But also a race winner, from a team that is challenging for wins and potentially the championship, believes in our project and joins our organisation at this stage.

"(That) says a lot about the project and says a lot about what we are trying to build here and it all goes together."

Speaking earlier in the week, Ricciardo said he was eager to get started with Renault and his new teammate Nico Hulkenberg.

With some issues with Max Verstappen causing friction, including Verstappen saying he "won't miss" Ricciardo, the 29-year-old Australian is keen to have a positive relationship with his new colleague - but he'll still be desperate to beat him.

"I'll certainly take a lot of the highs with me and take them with me as confidence moving to Renault," Ricciardo said.

"And I'll need that as well because of Nico.

"I think that everyone who knows F1 knows his calibre. From the outside, you can think that he's done 200 races or whatever and never had a podium, but we all know he isn't that level of driver.

"So I know I'll need to bring all of this, not only to beat him, but also to help fast-track the team to progress."

Kayo Sports will have every F1 practice, qualifying and race live - including the season opener in Melbourne on March 17 as well as all of last years' races - from just $25 per month for two devices at once on Apple and Telstra TV, for Apple and Google Android smartphones, on web browsers and via Google Chromecast Ultra devices. 

News Corp Australia


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