Ricciardo’s cold, hard facts for Red Bull
Daniel Ricciardo says Red Bull's failure to challenge Ferrari and Mercedes in 2019 further validates his decision to jump ship to Renault following the 2018 season.
Despite joining a team that is incapable of even challenging for a spot on the podium, the 30-year-old says he is happy with his decision to sign with Renault for two seasons - especially after watching Red Bull fail to take the next step to compete with the grid leaders.
He suggested the ultimate goal for Formula 1 is to join leaders Mercedes - and while that is not an option he is content to judge his contract decision on factors outside of car performance if it involves weighing up the difference between a top five finish and a top 10 finish.
"People often come to me (and say): 'Look at Max, he's on the podium and you don't even get close to it," Ricciardo said, according to gpblog.com.
"But do you know what it is? I am not saying this to get at Red Bull, but they are doing exactly the same as the past five years.
"Last year Red Bull had won three races around this time, now they have just taken the first win [Verstappen's victory in Austria].
"So I would not have been better off if I had stayed with Red Bull. That is also my point: unless you drive for Mercedes, as a driver you can never be completely satisfied, because Mercedes dominates.
"I certainly do not regret my switch to Renault.
"[Results are] not yet great, but I am very happy with the team and with what I see here. And most importantly: I am happy with myself and with what I do, what I am trying to build up here with the engineers."
Ricciardo's replacement at Red Bull, Pierre Gasly, has also had an up-and-down 2019 season.
However, he impressed Red Bull boss Christian Horner during the British Grand Prix.
"Pierre has done a very good job all weekend and turning the page from Austria, that was a really tough weekend for him," Horner said.
"Coming here and just focusing on what he's doing, not what his teammate's doing, and just getting back to basics, he's been like a different driver all weekend."
Meanwhile, Ricciardo's comments about the dominance of Mercedes will have raised eyebrows across the Formula 1 world, following reports of a possible grid shake-up at the end of 2019.
With Mercedes star Valtteri Bottas yet to re-sign beyond the 2019 season and rumours surrounding the possible retirement of Sebastian Vettel and a possible bombshell walkout from Red Bull's Max Verstappen should the team fail to hit the performance clauses in his contract, the entire grid is waiting to see how the dominoes will fal.
A bombshell report earlier this month claimed a path is opening up for Daniel Ricciardo to move to Formula 1 giant Ferrari at the end of the 2019 season.
Ricciardo remains contracted with Renault until the end of the 2020 season - but Auto Action's Dan Knutson has outlined how Ferrari could begin the 2020 season with a star driver pairing of Ricciardo and Charles Leclerc.
The report claims Ricciardo and Mercedes star Valtteri Bottas are on Ferrari's wish list should Vettel decide to retire at the end of the 2019 season.
"The bottom line is that Mercedes is very likely to retain Bottas, and Vettel is unlikely to retire at the end of this season," Auto Action reported.
"But Ferrari has initiated moves to make sure it is not suddenly left without two top drivers in 2020, and Ricciardo and Bottas are at the top of the wish list for the Prancing Horse team."
The German ace has been under pressure during Ferrari's miserable start to 2019 where they have failed to win a race while rivals Mercedes have streaked away to a 135-point lead in the constructor's championship.
Vettel, who turned 32 this week, is also contracted with Ferrari through to the end of 2020 - but his recent comments and behaviour have reportedly forced Ferrari to begin thinking about needing to replace him sooner than first thought, should Vettel decide to walk away.
Ferrari's reported decision to identify Ricciardo and Bottas as dream replacement options for Vettel is just one of several big developments outlined in the report, including:
* Ricciardo has a clause in his Renault deal that would allow him to move to Ferrari or Mercedes in 2020
*The former Red Bull ace would be reluctant to leave Renault because he believes in the journey the team is on; and
*The situation could get even messier with Bottas expected to open contract talks with Mercedes soon and Max Verstappen also possibly being available if Red Bull fails to meet the contract clauses reportedly written into his contract that would allow him to leave if the team fails to reach certain goals.
The report also outlines Vettel is unlikely to retire at the end of 2019, but Ferrari is proactively chasing a replacement on the off-chance that he decides to give it away.