Renault F1 Team driver Daniel Ricciardo believes that the departure his ex-Race Engineer Simon Rennie from Red Bull Racing led to his exit from the Milton Keynes-based team at the end of the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.
The Australian was predicted to sign a new deal to remain with the energy drink brand for the 2019 campaign but unexpectedly decided to join Renault on a two-year deal.
Mike Lugg, who had worked as Ricciardo’s Race Engineer during the title-winning year of 2009 in the British Formula 3 Championship, was primed to reunite with the thirty-year old as Rennie’s successor at Red Bull.
However, in the week after the 2018 Hungarian Grand Prix, Ricciardo had decided to join forces with Carlos Sainz Jr.‘s former Race Engineer Karel Loos at Renault for the following year.
“There were a lot of reasons, but losing Simon – I knew he wasn’t going to engineer this year, if I stayed at Red Bull, and I thought I had a good relationship with him, and there were some unknowns,” Ricciardo said to Motorsport.com during the weekend of this year’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
“I was certainly comfortable with him. If I knew he stayed, I don’t know if that would’ve been the deciding factor, but it was another [thing] – obviously when you’ve got the Honda concern and a few others, I guess that was another little thing.
“As I said, there were lots of these little things which probably added up – I don’t want to say ‘concerns’ but unknowns, ‘concerns’ is probably a bit disrespectful.”
As the salary from Red Bull was not an issue at the time, Ricciardo had spoken to McLaren, along with Renault and Red Bull over a 2019 seat. However, the latter two were in contention for the seven-time race winner by the time Formula 1 had arrived in Budapest in July last year.
Going into that important weekend where his future was uncertain at that point, Ricciardo recalled: “I remember, coming into the weekend, I was still like a little bit probably oblivious of what was going to happen and where I would end up, but as the weekend progressed, Friday or Saturday, it was like, alright, some teams are really pushing me, they need to know answers – so it started to ramp up.
“And it was Sunday night we had to start to really decide what to do, and I was like ‘I’m just going to go out tonight, have a few drinks, and maybe I’ll find my answer with a few friends’. And then on the Monday it all kind of started to kick off a bit more.”