Formula 1: Did Daniel Ricciardo make a mistake leaving Red Bull?

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Formula 1 (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Formula 1 (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) /

Daniel Ricciardo has not had the best run in Formula 1 since his departure from Red Bull in 2018, and many believe his decision was a mistake.

It is safe to say the peak of Daniel Ricciardo’s Formula 1 career was his tenure with Red Bull. He amassed seven wins, 29 podium finishes, three pole positions, and three top five finishes in the standings.

Ricciardo’s departure from Red Bull caused plenty of reactions, but the Australian desired a new challenge elsewhere. He took his talents to Renault for two seasons before switching to McLaren in 2021. He is now back at Red Bull as their third driver.

Many believe that Ricciardo’s reasoning for leaving Red Bull may not entirely be the truth. At the end of his tenure with the team, Max Verstappen was also making massive strides. Some say Ricciardo was not a fan of the team slowly prioritizing the Dutchman.

The rumors go on and on, but did Daniel Ricciardo make the right decision by leaving Red Bull after the 2018 Formula 1 season?

Looking back on the 33-year-old’s performance after his departure, he was not spectacular by any means. The issues and struggles were ever so visible, but he was able to satisfy his desire of wanting a new and fresh challenge.

However, one might think that Ricciardo’s ego stopped him from achieving greater success, since he could have continued with Red Bull. His rumored unwillingness to allow Verstappen to shine could be a reason why he left.

It is common that when one begins to achieve success and is in the limelight, one would not want to take a step down. That could be the case here, as Ricciardo may have wanted to continue as the team’s top driver.

But given the potential success he sacrificed by moving on, it may not have been worth it. With Verstappen turning out to be a budding superstar in the sport, Ricciardo could have become the number two driver for Red Bull. The pair could have been quite the duo and definitely put the team in the conversation for the constructor championship.

Additionally, Red Bull had quite a strong car as well, one capable of winning races and consistently grabbing podium finishes. Despite Mercedes’ ongoing supremacy at the time, Red Bull easily could have been the next best team on the grid. If anything, the success and attention that Ricciardo might have gained would have only increased.

Given how marketable he is, there is a chance that he still could have been the face of Red Bull. He has one of the strongest images in Formula 1, and even though he is not currently competing, his image is stronger than that of most drivers on the active grid.

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Even though Ricciardo took his chances by taking on a new challenge, the success he reaped was not very plentiful and does not come close to that which he sacrificed. The duo of him and Verstappen would have been an absolute force. What Ricciardo got out of his years with Renault and McLaren has led to him being without a full-time seat for 2023. But had he stuck with Red Bull, he could still be regarded as one of the best drivers on the grid.