‘Stop f**king about!’ – Christian Horner opens up on Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull exit
Ricciardo initially left Red Bull in 2018 but later regretted the decision.
Feeling that teammate Max Verstappen was been favoured by Red Bull’s hierarchy, Ricciardo made the shock decision to leave the team he had been with for four years to join Renault.
It turned out to be an ill-fated decision, as was his subsequent move to McLaren where he experienced a huge drop in form and ended up losing his place on the grid for 2023.
The 34-year-old returned to Red Bull as a reserve driver however, and soon found himself back behind the wheel at their sister team AlphaTauri, replacing the axed Nyck de Vries, and he now hopes to re-take his place at the champions at the expense of the underperforming Sergio Perez.
Red Bull boss Horner meanwhile, has revealed all about his shock over the Aussie’s departure, how he tried to convince him to stay, and the regret the eight-time race winner later expressed over leaving.
He told the eff won with DRS podcast: ‘So we gave Max a contract at the beginning of that year in 2018 to secure his future. Daniel, I remember being upset at the time. He suddenly felt that, “Hang on, I don’t want to be the support act here”.
‘And I could tell he was starting to think of being a bigger fish in a smaller pond. He got a lot of noise in his ear and that this is the money that is also on the table [from other teams].
‘I remember I spoke to our owner Dietrich Mateschitz and I said, “It’s looking a bit marginal with Daniel, can you just show him some love? Just let him know that you want him”.
‘So he took him upstairs after the race in Austria and they reappeared both with smiles on their faces. Dietrich came up to me, and said, “No problem. It’s not even a question”.
‘I said, “Well, what did you agree with him?”. He said, “I said, we’ll give him whatever Max is on”.
‘I was like, “Wow, do you know what we pay Max?”. I gave him the number [$10million-a-year] and he said, “Who the f**k agreed to that?”.’
Eventually the contract offer was drafted up but of course Ricciardo never signed: ‘So he rings me and he’s like, “I’ve been thinking. I’m not going to sign the contract. I’m going to take another contract”.
‘I was like, “Wow, okay, have Mercedes or Ferrari come through with something?” And he went, “No, I’m going to sign for Renault”. Because Daniel’s got a sense of humour, I was convinced he’s taking the piss here.
‘”You’re not going to Renault, stop f**king about, just tell me when you are going to sign that contract”. So after about 10 minutes, he finally persuaded me that he was gonna go to Renault and it was disappointing.’
Ricciardo raced for Renault in 2019 but ahead of the 2020 season he agreed to join McLaren for the following year, and it was around this time that the Aussie admitted to Horner that he’d made a mistake.
‘It actually was during the pandemic year, Daniel called me and he said, “Christian, I hate to say this but you were absolutely right. And I apologise and all that and so on”.
‘We just kept in touch, we’ve always had a good relationship. He’s a good guy. He was just badly advised at the time.’
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