Ricciardo joins Renault Sport F1 for 2019

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

Despite the headlines around the world about how shocking this move is, I’ll be honest, I’m not shocked in the least. In fact, I’ve mentioned this move previously and felt that Daniel Ricciardo or even Fernando Alonso returning to the team might be something interesting and could be possible.

Renault signing Nico Hulkenberg was a big move in the right direction for many reasons, getting Carlos Sainz last year was good but on the balance of it, Carlos hasn’t quite delivered the results that would keep him in that seat should the team get a look at the likes of Ricciardo or Alonso.

As I mentioned last year, the team are not Lotus F1 of Genii Capital days, they are a factory team and as such, they are dealing with aggressive budgets and re-developing a team that was poached or left during the desperate days of Lotus F1.

Bob Bell is stepping down and the team will need to raise their game on engine reliability and chassis / aerodynamic development in order to make the next step. They don’t have Adrian Newey like Red Bull does and that’s the difference between the two teams this year, a better chassis.

There is a crossover point when the car gets to a development stage that demands the best drivers you can get and not just drivers who happen to be available or have financial backing. We discussed this on a recent podcast with regards to Haas F1 and clearly Renault are to that point so adding Ricciardo and Hulkenberg to the equation is a big move in the right direction. The team will not be leaving anything on the table from a driver perspective on any given Sunday and the same cannot be said of Haas F1 etc.

Interesting that it is a two-year deal. My hunch is that Daniel knows that Red Bull’s first year with Honda engines is going to see the team take a step backward. I could be completely wrong but I suspect that will be a result. In the long run, however, it is a brilliant move by Red Bull to get their own engine manufacturer and complete what McLaren were trying to do. Red Bull will push Honda hard to develop using two teams to do so.

If I had to guess, I would say the Honda/Red Bull combination will pay dividends in a couple of seasons but that’s two more years that Renault can develop too and the regulation changes coming may change the playing field for everyone.

Then you have to factor in the Max Factor. Daniel isn’t keen on playing second fiddle on any team and to be honest, I will be very interested to see how Daniel’s presence on the team impacts Nico’s performance. Dan is a known entity and on first blush you might think he’ll leave Nico in the dust but I’m not 100% sure about that. I think Nico will raise his game and that leaves two cars finishing well into the points which is what they need.

As for Carlos, will he go back to Red Bull to replace Daniel? If I am Christian Horner, it’s a safe bet because I have Max. There is Pierre Gasly to consider but is he ready for primetime at the big team? Carlos has the experience. There is some speculation about Force India, Haas or other mid-field teams but if I am Carlos, I am looking at Daniel’s empty seat.

Renault Press Release:

Renault Sport Formula One Team is pleased to confirm Daniel Ricciardo will join the team from the 2019 season. He will team up with current driver Nico Hülkenberg.

Twenty-nine-year-old Daniel, who hails from Perth, Australia, joins Renault Sport Formula One Team for the next two seasons.

Daniel has secured seven Grands Prix wins and stepped onto the podium 29 times. He is already very familiar with the Renault family, having driven in Renault junior series between 2007 and 2011 and has been powered by Renault engines in F1 since 2014.

Jérôme Stoll, President, Renault Sport Racing:
“Renault decided to come back to Formula One to fight for World Championships. Signing Daniel Ricciardo is a unique opportunity for the Groupe Renault towards this objective that could not be missed. We welcome Daniel’s arrival to our team, still in the making, but more motivated than ever.”

Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director, Renault Sport Racing:
“Daniel’s signing underscores our determination to accelerate our progress towards the forefront of the sport. It is also a recognition of the work accomplished over the past two and a half seasons. Daniel’s undoubted talent and charisma are a huge bonus and statement for the team. We will have to repay his faith in us by delivering the best car possible. We welcome him to our growing team in 2019 with a great deal of pride, but also humility.”

Daniel Ricciardo:
“It was probably one of the most difficult decisions to take in my career so far. But I thought that it was time for me to take on a fresh and new challenge. I realise that there is a lot ahead in order to allow Renault to reach their target of competing at the highest level but I have been impressed by their progression in only two years, and I know that each time Renault has been in the sport they eventually won. I hope to be able to help them in this journey and contribute on and off track.”

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For the last 9 races do you think Redbull will now race with Max as the number 1 or go racing as usual without playing favorites?

Tom Firth

Definitely. Have Renault got the last laugh in their awkward relationship with Red Bull too by poaching one of their drivers?


I wonder what else they’ll poach?
It’s clear that Renault are building up to start challenging for podiums and wins. Signing a top driver like Ricciardo is another big piece of their organisation, I wonder if they’ll be signing some of RBR’s technical stars too?

Tom Firth

I’m surprised its actually happened as did think in recent weeks, had swung back to Red Bull but I do think its a good move and a strong sign of intent from Renault to sign a driver from the A league.

Ricciardo has a long, long relationship with Renault, this gives him undisputed 1st driver status and the team is on an upwards trajectory year-to-year. Yes it has issues around reliability but so does Red Bull and at the moment and though it might reverse, peak Red Bull seems over.


Do you think Ricciardo will be undisputed number 1?
I think Hulkenberg is good enough to give him a very good fight for that status.
Sainz has been touted as close to VerStappen in talent, but the Hulk has had the edge on Sainz in Renault so far.


RB has engaged in a lot of feckless posturing, at one point appearing poised to leave the sport in 2020. Their recent failure to deign taking a Renault upgrade and apparently having an in race failure of the downrev version of that very part makes RB seem a bit silly. Also, you can bet Renault would have shared information with Ricciardo that they won’t share with RB. Finally, it seems to me that the next big battle is going to be over engines for 2021. RB would appear to have the very most minimal “juice” on that front, whereas Renault… Read more »


I think it’s out of Carlos’ hands… look at the Autosport article, he is not in a good place right now…
Body language reflected so over the last few races…

Tom Firth

Feel are going to pick Gasly over him. Risk with that though is he ends up like Kvyat.


In Red Bull’s driver development system, unless there are contractual obligations tied to Sainz, Gasly clearly makes the most sense at this point.

The Captain

Nope as a Ricciardo and RB fan, still shocked. I think this is one of those moves we won’t fully understand until some retiree writes a book in 10 years. I really thought the best option for Danny and RB was for him to stay at RB. I’m just not on this bandwagon that Renault is destined for greatness because they are a works team. Sure they are not the Lotus team anymore. But you have to remember Lotus was Lotus because Renault sucked for a long while and left the sport. And yea I think RB Honda will struggle… Read more »


Well, NC, you called it. Logical reasoning too…
Sainz is a talent I surely hope he prevails over Stroll and Hartley… like his Dad, who took 3 seasons to settle in, Sainz needs time.
Now Checko on the other hand is exciting and fast… what he needs is to damn well own a team… be the Brabham of the modern era… where’s Carlos Sim when you need him to buy out Force India?

Fred Daniell

Daniel appears to be following the Hamilton model: stick with your engine supplier. I wish him all the best – and I agree with you about RBR/Honda. If we think Max is using colorful language now – wait ’till we hear him next year!!


I think Danny has to fly the nest, much as Hamilton did at mclaren. You can tell that the team don’t respect him as much as he may deserve. Alonso u feel is the right call to replace him, out of contract with McLaren and you feel he would go there for free. Currently there is no outstanding red bull driver in my opinion, sainz is not as good as max or the Hulk, gasly is to inexperienced and needs a couple more seasons. Fernando is the right man to lead max for 2 years as he is not team… Read more »


I’m just not convinced that Alonso’s heart is in F1 enough anymore for him to lead a major team. He came back from Le Mans to have just an awful French Grand Prix–running dead last before giving up with a few laps to go. It’s hard not to connect that result with the fact that he was off running an exhausting endurance race during the two weeks that other drivers were resting and preparing for Paul Ricard. Had he put up a stinker like that for a major team after Le Mans, it would have been a huge controversy, but… Read more »


Being the smart arse that I am, I will say that I suggested this 12 months ago and if I could be bothered to find the post I would pop it right here :-) As a DR fan, I’m worried that his potential will be lost if Renault don’t pick up the game. The logic is sound when you analyse it. Play second fiddle or take a gamble with an up and coming team. He was never going to win the WDC with a customer team and Renault is the best option for him. The end of 2020 is going… Read more »

Tim C

I knew . . . I just knew Dan would land at Renault. He was never going to get the treatment he deserved at Red Bull. He will now be at a factory team with the budget to complete. I hope he and Nico can push Renault to be really competitive with Mercedes and Ferrari next year. It would be awesome to see a 3 and 4 way team battle for wins.


How awkward is it that F1 just dropped their summer break video featuring Danny driving across the Western US in his RB ride and two days later he announces that he is leaving.

I know… At the time.of filming D-Ric didn’t know to he able to say “Hey Mate, this might not be thr best promo idea.”


Though I wished he’d have gone to Ferrari or Mercedes, Renault could put itself in championship contention, or at least keep Daniel in the top six until a better seat is opened up.

I’d drop Grojean or Vandoorne for Sainz.


FA to Red Bull would be amazing…the tension and intrigue between him and Helmet would be delicious. I suspect it will require a season of Max’s continued inconsistency to demonstrate the need for a true jedi in the team…even if FA will be nearly 40 at that point.

Bold prediction: if it’s Sainz, Max beats him by less than 25 pts in 2019, despite being the clear #1 at RBR.


Yeah, I can really see FA wanting to be back partnered with Honda.

Fred Betros

No-one knows what the truly right decision is – not even Daniel! Only 2 years will tell. Then you will have those that “told you so” and those who “had no idea”. At best, it’s a calculated gamble. If it were clear cut, there wouldn’t be so much debate over it. Danny RIC is my man – followed him from day 1. Down here in Australia, the place is mad about him and we just want to see him do well. There’s no doubt he will have equal footing with Nico (I love the idea of this pairing – I… Read more »


As a fellow Aussie, I’m right with you there buddy.
I suspect he’s gone to Renault as more than an ‘equal’ driver.


Hi NC,
You’re probably beavering away at this as we speak, but now the Ricciardo domino has toppled into place, and Bottas has signed to Mercedes for another year, is it time for a 2019 drivers line up thread.
That should get a fair bit of speculation going on TPF. Especially with the uncertainty around Force India’s future.
You could have a kick off thread, and provide weekly update as speculation rages and seats are filled.


We don’t know what we don’t know. Maybe Daniel went to the Renault F1 headquarters and they showed him something, like a big suitcase full of money, that made him think his future would be better there. However, I don’t think we should get too excited that Renault is a works team. The chaps in France that work on the Renault Clio don’t have much to offer the people in Britain who work on the F1 car. IF it goes well for Danny Ric, it will be because of the boys and girls at Enstone. It’s a bold move, I… Read more »