Daniel Ricciardo has shocked the Formula One worls by announcing that he will quit Red Bull Racing at the end of this season and drive for Renault on a two-year contract.
Riccardo has made the move to keep alive his hopes of a world championship, something that looked bleak as the sidekick to child prodigy Max Verstappen at Red Bull and with Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz both shunning the Australian ace.
"It was probably one of the most hard decisions to take in my career so far", said Ricciardo, who made his F1 debut with the short-lived HRT outfit in 2011 and drove for Red Bull's sister team Toro Rosso in 2012 and 2013.
Their best-placed driver is Nico Hulkenberg in seventh, while 23-year-old Spaniard Carlos Sainz is 11th.
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"Personally I felt it was a time where it was good to move on and have a fresh start somewhere else".
At this point in time, the smart money will be on Gasly to partner Verstappen next year, however Ricciardo-to-Renault proved that where "the smart money" goes is not always a fair dinkum indication of what will really happen. Ricciardo is a seven-time race victor and regarded as one of the best drivers in the field, and he's taking a leap of faith to a team with a top finish of fifth in 2018.
"There is a lot ahead in order to allow Renault to reach their target of competing at the highest level but I have been impressed by their progression in only two years".
Daniel Ricciardo is to leave Red Bull at the end of the 2018 season for Renault.
The Renault-Ricciardo announcement has triggered another flurry of Silly Season speculation.
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"Signing Daniel Ricciardo is a unique opportunity for the Groupe Renault towards this objective that could not be missed". Sainz entered Formula 1 with Red Bull Toro Rosso - Red Bull Racing's F1 feeder team - and moved to Renault in the middle of the 2017 season.
Mercedes, Ferrari and current side Red Bull are undoubtedly the powerhouses in Formula One, occupying the top three spots in the standings for many years now.
A part-season with HRT paved way for his full-time F1 graduation with Toro Rosso in 2012, and he was then brought into Red Bull's main team to replace Mark Webber, winning seven races for the squad since '14. He finished third in the drivers' standings in 2014 and 2016.
He said, "We fully respect Daniel's decision to leave Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and we wish him all the best in his future".
'Jérôme Stoll, President, Renault Sport Racing: Renault made a decision to come back to Formula One to fight for World Championships.
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