Christian Horner admitted his first thoughts about Daniel Ricciardo’s planned move to the Renault Sport Formula One Team was that the Australian was winding him up, but it all became serious quickly when it became clear that he was making the move.
Ricciardo made the shock announcement just after the Hungarian Grand Prix that he would be leaving his home of five years at Aston Martin Red Bull Racing to join Renault as Nico Hülkenberg’s team-mate on a two-year contract.
It was rumoured that he would stay with Red Bull, which is switching from Renault to Honda-power in 2019, with contract offers on the table, but the Australian felt a change was needed and he opted to make the switch to the works Renault team from next season.
Horner had expected a much different telephone call to the one he got from Ricciardo when he was informed of his decision to make the switch, and despite losing a strong driver from his own line-up, he feels it could be an inspired choice for the twenty-nine-year-old to make the move in 2019.
“I thought he was winding me up, to be honest, when he rang me to say ‘I’m going to Renault’,” said Horner on F1’s official podcast. “I said ‘is this a wind-up for the summer holidays’?
“It then became very clear that was his choice and you have to respect that. Renault is a growing team, they are committing resource there. Maybe it’s an inspired choice.”
Red Bull have yet to announce Ricciardo’s replacement, with seemingly only Carlos Sainz Jr. and Pierre Gasly in contention after Fernando Alonso’s decision to quit Formula 1 at the end of 2018.