Daniel Ricciardo’s relationship with former team Red Bull continues to fascinate Formula 1 fans.
Three years since his bombshell decision to leave the team for Renault and then for McLaren, questions are still being asked with some simply unable to comprehend the move.
Ricciardo has now given another morsel of information about his motivation for leaving
The 31-year-old has always rejected suggestions he was forced out when former teammate Max Verstappen took the unofficial position as top dog of the Red Bull garage.
That relationship between Verstappen and red Bull boss Christian Horner has been the bedrock of the Red Bull operation, and Ricciardo has now revealed just how unnervingly close the romance is between the pair — at least in the eyes of Horner.
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Ricciardo said in a podcast released on Friday (AEST) Horner’s affection for Verstappen borders on obsessive.
“It’s weird as f***,” Ricciardo said with a giggle on the Pardon My Take podcast.
“So like he was his best man at his wedding. Godfather to his children. He even moved into the farmhouse next door, so it was getting a lot.”
Ricciardo then went on to further defend his decision to leave the team.
“So at the time the Red Bull to Renault thing, a lot of people couldn’t understand it,” he said.
“So I was downgrading, if you want to call it that. But I felt like at Red Bull I kind of reached my limit. I’d been with the team for so long and I knew everyone. I was like I’m not sure I’m really going to put in any more effort into this if I keep going.
“It doesn’t really sound right, but basically I was worried I was going to get complacent. Just sort of seeing the same people every day. I wanted a new challenge. And I also felt like Renault was an up-and-comer.”
There was scope for Ricciardo to return to Red Bull for the start of the 2021 season after his move from Renault, but there was never any talk of the two parties entertaining the idea.
When it became clear it simpy wasn’t working out with Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly, Red Bull were looking for a new driver, but it never appeared to even glance in Ricciardo’s direction.
Popular Sky Sports pit lane commentator Ted Kravitz had his own theory earlier this year.
He said in a podcast there still seemed to be lingering tension between Ricciardo and senior figures at Red Bull, including the team’s special advisor Helmut Marko.
Ricciardo, however, appears to still enjoy a friendly relationship with Red Bull boss Christian Horner.
“It looked like Red Bull weren’t going to go back to Daniel Ricciardo, or maybe they just hadn’t thought of it,” Kravitz 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.”