Daniel Ricciardo, the Australian shoe-champagne-guzzling star of Red Bull’s Formula One team and objectively one of Earth’s best humans, surprised the racing world this morning with an announcement that he won’t be on the team past the end of this year. And if multiple reports are to be believed, he’s headed to Renault next. (Update: Renault confirms it’s happening.)
The Red Bull team made this announcement confirming that Ricciardo, who had been with them since 2014 and started on the junior Toro Rosso team in 2012, will leave at the end of this year’s season.
Commenting on Daniel’s decision, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner said: “We fully respect Daniel’s decision to leave Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and we wish him all the best in his future. We would like to thank him for his dedication and the role he has played since joining the Team in 2014, the highlights of course being the seven wins and the 29 podiums he has achieved so far with us.
As the statement noted, there’s still nine races left in 2018 where Ricciardo will race alongside teammate Max Verstappen. ESPN says it’s likely Carlos Sainz or Pierre Gasly will replace him after this year.
But Verstappen—the up-and-coming but shenanigans-prone 20-year-old driver seen as a rising star within the company and the sport—was apparently a point of contention for the more senior Ricciardo. According to the Australian, Verstappen secured a much more lucrative deal recently, and Ricciardo feared getting relegated to second-tier status the same way Mark Webber did when he and Sebastian Vettel raced together at Red Bull years ago:
Ricciardo walked away from Red Bull, the team he has been with for six season, having been upset at Red Bull’s contract offer, believed to be far less than the monies given in an upgraded contract to the younger driver Max Verstappen last year, The Australian understands.
It hasn’t been confirmed yet by the driver or the team, but Ricciardo is expected to move to Renault next, according to multiple news reports. Wherever he ends up, we hope the shoeys, bad Texan accents and generally awesome approach to everything continues unabated.
Update: Moments after this post went up, Renault confirmed the move in a tweet:
“Renault decided to come back to Formula One to fight for World Championships,” Renault Sport Racing president Jérôme Stoll said in a statement. “Signing Daniel Ricciardo is a unique opportunity for the Groupe Renault towards this objective that could not be missed. We welcome Daniel’s arrival to our team, still in the making, but more motivated than ever.”