Daniel Ricciardo is the hot topic right now in the paddocks of Formula 1 as he made his announcement on moving to Renault from Red Bull. The ‘Honey Badger’, as he is fondly called, termed it as the ‘toughest decision in his life’.
“It was probably one of the most difficult decisions to take in my career so far. But I thought that it was time for me to take on a fresh and new challenge,” Ricciardo said.
Renault Sport Racing, president, Jerome Stoll had this to say about the recruitment of Ricciardo: “Renault decided to come back to Formula 1 to fight for world championships. Signing Daniel Ricciardo is a unique opportunity for Groupe Renault towards this objective that could not be missed.”
I remember back in 2014, when the hybrid-era cars came into being, Red Bull were looking for a fifth straight world championship in both drivers and constructors.
However, with Mercedes getting the upper hand in getting the package right and also having two top-class drivers in Hamilton and Rosberg, Red Bull could only watch since their power unit suppliers, Renault, suffered from amnesia or something. Their engine was simply not able to keep up with the ones cooked out from Brackley.
With the situation turning bad, Red Bull looked for Vettel to perform his miracles but he was struggling himself, failing to get to know the car better, something not expected from a four-time world champion. I think that Vettel himself would have had sleepless nights thinking about his situation.
It was then Ricciardo came into the limelight, winning races when his team mate had a fallout with the team he had been so happy to be with. Red Bull being Red Bull, it sided with Ricciardo.
Come 2015, Ricciardo thought that he would be the lead driver to a team that was far better in that year. But by Spain, Max Verstappen was promoted from Red Bull’s sister team Toro Rosso and team boss Christian Horner’s actions went in favour of young Verstappen, who is regarded as a champion in the making three years down the line.
But Ricciardo soldiered on. He has won seven races and had gained more points as well. Red Bull signed Max for another three years earlier this year but Ricciardo did not want to put pen to paper.
He was right to do so.
For had he signed back then, he would have had to play second fiddle to Max in a car that seemingly does not have the pace to take him to his maiden title. Plus, Red Bull had decided to join Honda for next year, making the decision complex still for the Australian.
He had options with McLaren as well. But the English squad had just taken in a Renault heart after their terrible years with Honda and are yet to find their feet. Then came Renault works team and somehow they have managed to lure in Ricciardo.
Considered one of the best overtakers in a long time, Ricciardo has all the right things with him for Renault who came back into F1 in 2016 with a complete works team after buying Lotus.
He does not make things complicated, is a team man and, most importantly, keeps the team orders in front of his own personal gains.
But I was expecting him to go to Mercedes alongside Hamilton. We could have had a new champion in the making because Renault is far from providing a Mercedes or Ferrari beating car. But I can only wish him luck. The Honey Badger might, after all, bring in the sweets for the French squad and Formula 1.