A leading Formula One reporter claims there’s still lingering drama between Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull.
Daniel Ricciardo’s former team Red Bull are still upset with the way the Australian left in 2018, according to a leading Formula One reporter.
Ricciardo announced his departure midway through the 2018 season, taking up a rich two-year deal with arch-rivals Renault.
At the time Red Bull had just announced it would end a 12-year association with Renault engines, switching to Honda instead.
Red Bull management had been highly critical of Renault’s engines since the introduction of Formula One’s turbo-hybrid regulations in 2014, that saw Mercedes usurp Red Bull as the sport’s leading team.
With Ricciardo looking to leave Renault when his contract expired at the end of the 2020 season, one team with a vacant seat was Red Bull, however Ricciardo was never seriously linked with a return.
According to Sky Sports pit-lane reporter, Ted Kravitz, there’s still some lingering tension between Ricciardo and Red Bull management.
“It looked like Red Bull weren’t going to go back to Daniel Ricciardo, or maybe they just hadn’t thought of it,” he told the In the Fast Lane podcast.
“I think they’re still annoyed really, (about) the way he left them actually.
“I think (Red Bull advisor) Helmut Marko hasn’t really forgiven him, for disappearing off to Renault of all people, which was kind of the final insult.
“If you’re going to leave us, OK, but don’t leave us for Renault, our dreaded rivals and ex-engine partners.”
Just three months ago Marko took another swipe at the Australian, claiming that the longer Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were teammates, the bigger the gap became in favour of Verstappen.
Ricciardo is now preparing for his first season at McLaren, with plenty of knowledgeable observers feeling the team has taken a step forward this season, even to the point of challenging the previously all-conquering Mercedes team.
While Red Bull seem to be the front-runners, at least based on pre-season testing, little separates McLaren from Mercedes.
McLaren have switched from Renault to Mercedes engines, a change that is expected to be worth a couple of tenths per lap.
It’s one reason Ricciardo has signed a three-year deal with McLaren, in the expectation it’s his best chance of claiming an elusive world title outside of the top two teams.
“He has to believe it, doesn’t he?” Kravitz said.
“He has to believe that in three years’ time this McLaren Mercedes, with such clever things as a trick diffuser and stuff like that, is going to be a team with which you can challenge for the world championship.
“I’d say at this point that would be optimistic.”
But Kravitz suggested the three-year deal may not be set in stone, if Ricciardo thinks a better drive is available.
“I would be staggered if there wasn’t a clause in that three-year contract which said that ‘if Red Bull or Mercedes have a space for me, then I can go’,” he said.
“Clearly he’s in the business now of getting in a car that can challenge for the world championship. I don’t think anyone doubts that he would be able to put a championship together, a campaign together if he had the right car.
“He just needs to wait for the chance.
“But he knows that something different has to change at Mercedes in order for that to happen.
“Were something weird [to happen], and Lewis Hamilton to retire or [Mercedes] deciding to move Valtteri Bottas on, or both, George Russell is ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in the Mercedes queue.”
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