Daniel Ricciardo has bid farewell to Red Bull after four seasons with the F1 giants.
The Australian was promoted from feeder team Toro Rosso, who he spent two years with between 2012 and 2014, and during his time with Red Bull competed alongside former World Champion Sebastian Vettel, and later, Dutch sensation Max Verstappen.
It had been widely expected that the 29-year-old would renew his expiring contract, with Red Bull describing the Verstappen/Ricciardo pairing as the best line-up in Formula One.
However, Ricciardo sent shockwaves through the team camp when he announced this summer that he would transfer to Renault at the end of the 2018 season, with it widely accepted that his continued subordination to Verstappen motivated this.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Red Bull team manager Christian Horner argued that he saw ongoing competition between the two drivers as the reason behind Ricciardo’s departure.
‘’Max is growing stronger and stronger. I think Daniel has decided the time is right for him to check out and try something else.
‘’I can’t help but feel he wants to be a leading role perhaps in a smaller environment.’’
The debate over the 29-year-old’s departure intensified in late August, when Verstappen’s father Jos waded into the discussion, denying any internal rivalry between the two drivers, and describing Ricciardo’s switch as a backwards move.
Despite a seemingly-hostile atmosphere in the team, Ricciardo seems determined to leave Red Bull on good terms.
On Friday, he uploaded a farewell post to his Instagram as he officially departed the side after four years.
The short video featured images throughout Ricciardo’s span at Red Bull, and started with a ‘Thank You For The Memories’ caption.
A reminiscent glimpse back at his time with the team, it identified some of the Australian’s key achievements over his 100 races with Red Bull, including 29 podium finishes, three poles, and seven race victories.
The clip ended with a black-and-white snapshot of Ricciardo falling into a swimming pool after his last 1st-place finish, at the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix.
Although Verstappen may have been Red Bull’s No.1 driver since 2015, and their best shot at a championship victory, Ricciardo has developed into one of F1’s most talented racers, and if anything, deserves the chance to make his name as a team’s primary driver.
While Renault may be some way off breaking the dominance of Formula One’s ‘Big Three’ of Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull, the team ranked fourth in the constructor standings for 2018, and the addition of Ricciardo, promotes an image of a team on the rise.