The last four years of Daniel Ricciardo’s life have been hectic, with the Australian driver having made the bold decision at the end of 2018 to leave Red Bull, in favour of midfield side Renault (known now as Alpine).
Many were left in shock that the 33-year-old had decided to give up a rare seat at the front of the field, with the fan favourite admitting himself that leaving Red Bull was a “little bit of a gamble”.
Whether the gamble paid off is arguably something that only Ricciardo can answer, given that he would’ve had his own personal expectations whilst at Renault and then McLaren.
Whilst he failed to be a consistent frontrunner and was most often seen in the midst of the midfield, Ricciardo doesn’t look back on his decision to leave Red Bull with “regret”.
Whilst at Renault during 2019 and 2020, Ricciardo claimed two third-place finishes, both of which he claimed in his second year at the Enstone-based team.
His podium for Renault at the Eiffel Grand Prix was the team’s first since Nick Heidfeld’s podium at the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix, marking the end of a lengthy wait for the French side.
For McLaren, he also claimed the Woking-based team’s first win since 2012, after a sensational performance at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix.
His success since leaving Red Bull has certainly been minimal; however, it’s not something Ricciardo tends to think about.
“I don’t look at it like that, because nothing is sure,” Ricciardo the Beyond the Grid podcast, when asked if he regrets leaving the Austrians at the end of 2018.
“If I stayed there the last four years, could I say I would have had more podiums than I’ve had? What have I had, maybe three or something?
“Yeah, I’m confident to say I would have had more podiums than I’ve had.
“But you just don’t know. Obviously at the time I felt like it was right for me. I felt like I needed a change and I needed to kind of just remove myself a bit. If I continued [at Red Bull], would that urge have grown?
“Would I have become, let’s say, more curious or less happy, or whatever?
“It’s not a sure thing that it would have been great if I stayed. I don’t look back and say, ‘Man, I shouldn’t have [left]’.
“But, of course, I can be honest with myself and say, ‘Yeah, I took a little bit of a gamble on myself’.”
He is, of course, returning to Red Bull in 2023 as a development driver, after his contract with McLaren was terminated.
His stint at McLaren certainly wasn’t a period to remember for Ricciardo (excluding his Monza triumph). But he actually hails his second season with Renault as “one of the best seasons” of his career.
“I still feel like the Renault [move] was pretty good, especially 2020 – [that was] one of the best seasons I’ve driven in F1,” he admitted.
“To get the team back on the podium, I was very proud of that.
“But obviously the McLaren one, even with the win… the win was a high and I can’t remove that, I can’t ignore that. I can look and say, ‘I tried as well with this one [and] it didn’t quite work out’.
“You live and you learn, but I don’t look back with regret. I just say, ‘Okay, it was a challenge I took on, and it didn’t work out how I hoped’.”