Former Formula 1 driver, Martin Brundle, believes that Daniel Riccirdo’s departure from Red Bull in 2018 was a poor choice.
The Australian had won seven races with the Austrian side, but was being out-performed by Max Verstappen, and it was clear that the Dutchman was the driver Red Bull wanted to prioritise going forward.
The now 33-year-old signed off and went to Renault in 2019 having turned down an opportunity to race with McLaren.
The British side were set to lose Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne at the end of that year and, having spent four seasons struggling to score points, Ricciardo did not see enough potential.
So, he went to the team that finished best of the rest in 2018, hoping to try and break into the top three – maybe, his decision could turn into a stroke of genius like Sir Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes jump in 2013.
Somewhat ironically though, the French side fell behind McLaren in 2019, and they continued to have an advantage during the 2020 season.
But Ricciardo was on fire during that COVID-affected year. He finished fifth in the Drivers’ Standings after earning two podium finishes, but as the team rebranded to Alpine, Ricciardo was not going to be a part of the project moving forward.
He jumped ship to McLaren to partner Lando Norris, but this move has not worked out. He has been in the points just 17 times since his arrival.
Norris has scored five podium finishes in the last one-and-a-half seasons, while the former Red Bull driver has one.
That one was a victory in Monza last year, but that was one of a few rare occasions in which the Aussie has been at one with the car.
Results have not been good enough in McLaren’s eyes, and the two parties have agreed to separate at the end of this season, one year before Ricciardo’s contract was set to expire.
The last two rounds in Hungary and Belgium have seen the eight-time race winner slump to disappointing finishes outside the top 10 in what continues to be a frustrating partnership with McLaren.
Ultimately though, Ricciardo’s career, in Brundle’s mind, has been spiralling since he left Red Bull to escape the shadow of Verstappen, who won the title last season.
“He shouldn’t have left Red Bull, that’s how it looks to me,” the commentator told Sky.
“The Renault move was the wrong move for him, he didn’t fancy staying around what he thought was Team Verstappen, which there was an element of truth in that.
“So, it’s just played out badly all the way along, he has lost his mojo a little bit.
“When I see Daniel starting outside the top ten and running outside the top ten all afternoon, that’s not him.
“That’s not where he’s at, we know he’s better than that, I find that painful to watch.
“I can’t imagine how painful it has been for Daniel to be in that car falling backwards through the field so maybe it’s a blessed relief all around and he will come back and show his mettle.”
Ricciardo has been linked with a return to Alpine, as well as the Haas team for next season.