Christian Horner has explained why Red Bull initially had Daniel Ricciardo doubts

F1 Grand Prix of Mexico - Qualifying

Daniel Ricciardo brought his Red Bull tenure to a close at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last month, having built a reputation as one of the most likeable and respected drivers on the grid.

The Australian is known for his beaming grin and laid-back manner, but also his competitive, no-nonsense racing.

Though Ricciardo's Red Bull career showed signs of promise, finishing third in the final standings twice, he has also suffered from a series of reliability issues.

And with his team unable to mount a title challenge in the way that they did at the start of the decade, Ricciardo decided that enough was enough. By choosing Renault as his next team though, the switch certainly took most people by surprise.

On the slowing down lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Red Bull boss Christian Horner gave a heartfelt tribute on the radio, with an emphasis on the seven victories and “good times” that they shared.

“He’s been a pleasure to have in the team the last five years,” said Horner when asked about the message by Motorsport.com. “He’s been with Red Bull since 2007, and it’s been great to see him grow and evolve."

Despite his glowing praise of his now former driver, Horner did admit to doubts about Ricciardo's ability when the team discussed who would be replacing Mark Webber before the 2014 season.

“Ironically, when we were first faced with the dilemma of who do we replace Mark Webber with, there was Jean-Eric Vergne, there was Daniel Ricciardo and there was Kimi Raikkonen.

Australian F1 Grand Prix - Practice

"And our biggest concern about Daniel wasn’t his pace, it was we hadn’t seen him race wheel-to-wheel while he was in a Toro Rosso."

Red Bull had little to be concerned about though, as Ricciardo has evolved into one of the most fearless overtakers in the paddock.

“...Ever since he got in a Red Bull car he’s done nothing but overtake, and arguably has become the best overtaker in the business. He’s driven some fantastic races for us.

“His personality has been a tremendous fit with the brand. His energy in the team has been hugely popular, the dynamics with him and Max [Verstappen], you’ve only got to look at the mischief that they get up to – it’s been great.”

Horner added that he was disappointed Ricciardo did not make the podium in his final race with the team.

Red Bull Racing Drivers Factory Visit

“We were all hoping that Dan would be there. Last race with the team, we wanted him to do a shoey for the final time. It wasn’t to be in the end.

"After the pitstop I thought it might not just be a podium. His race ran out of steam a little bit over the last 10 laps.”

He may not have emulated former teammate Sebastian Vettel's success as Red Bull, but there is no doubt that Ricciardo is one of the fastest drivers out there, particularly on street circuits.

And though Ricciardo might look back at his time with Red Bull and think about what may have been, he now has an exciting new chapter to look forward to at Renault.

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