Daniel Ricciardo admits he’s had to come to terms with the prospect of Red Bull-Honda contending for the Formula 1 world championship in its first year together next year after his move away from the Austrian outfit.
Red Bull opted to end its 11-year association with engine suppliers Renault last year and finalise a multi-year contract with Honda, who supplied sister team Toro Rosso with engines in 2018.
The uncertainty over the Japanese manufacturer’s competitiveness factored in Ricciardo’s decision to join Renault this season, despite obvious signs it had made strides in performance and reliability.
Given Honda’s progress, Ricciardo says the scenario of a competitive Red Bull package “played through his head” but feels he needed a change of environment regardless.
“Actually, part of the decision-making for me, I put myself in the mindset of ‘What if Honda and Red Bull kill it next year, and what if Max becomes world champion?’” Ricciardo told RACER.
“So I had already played that through my head and become OK with it, or come to terms with it.
“I think at the end of the day, the way I saw it was one of the big things that led me back was I just felt like I needed change regardless. Even if the team kills it in 2019, I don’t know if I would be convinced that I would be getting everything out of it, if that makes sense. So I’ve come to terms with however it’s going to play out, and I believe regardless it’s the right thing for me.”
Asked if he looked back on his five-year tenure at Red Bull with any regrets, Ricciardo replied: “No, I wouldn’t say any regrets, not at all, actually.
“I guess as well I never really had many other options anyway, so it’s not like I could have signed with Mercedes two years ago and I didn’t want to or whatever. So no regrets. I’m happy.
“I look at 2018 and 2015; there’s been some frustrating years for sure, but I’m always happy with the way I approach it. I don’t look back and say ‘Ah, if I would have worked harder then I wouldn’t be in this position and I would have made things better for myself’.
“I don’t ever feel like I’ve cheated myself, and some of my best weekends have been when I’ve been more chilled about it and less intense. But I think I’ve found that balance, so no regrets.”