Kimi Raikkonen finally leaves Ferrari, and Daniel Ricciardo leaves Red Bull, the popular Australian having chosen to drive for Renault, according to Messrs Marko, Horner and Verstappen the cause of all the Austrian team’s issues over the years.
For Ricciardo, it is almost a step into the unknown, a product of the Red Bull Junior Team, this weekend marks the Aussie’s 100th start for the Austrian outfit.
Needless to say, it’s an important moment in his life.
“Change is scary – it’s ****** terrifying,” he admits. “And I know the next part of my journey won’t always be easy, but I had to take this step to try to be the best version of me. That’s all it was. It was the next step, the next leap, a new challenge.
“I’m going to Renault next year, and I’m going with an open mind and a full heart. Nobody has a crystal ball, or can predict the future or the results of my decision, but nonetheless a decision was made.
“But for now I want to end this year strong. It’s not going to be easy, mentally. I know that. Each lap I turn in the car will mean one lap closer to my last in a Red Bull race suit. And when I get out for the final time in Abu Dhabi, I think I’m going to have a right good cry. Maybe a few of ’em. Then winter will come, I’ll go meet my new Renault friends, and I’ll start anew.”
It’s a move that some – including Pitpass – had predicted for some time, for whereby previously Mark Webber had played support to Sebastian Vettel it is now clear that Ricciardo would fulfil a similar role alongside ‘favoured son’ Max Verstappen.
A strong start to the season which included wins in China and, most famously, Monaco, was followed by a lean spell which saw the Australian fail to finish six of twelve races, leading to all manner of conspiracy theories.
However, as he prepares to say farewell to Red Bull, he insists that he feels privileged to have been part of the team.
“At times, this season has been incredibly difficult,” he admits. “I’ve talked about rolling with the punches, but man, even I get sore after a while. I’m human.
“But I really want you all to hear this: I hope everyone understands that Red Bull is so much more than a brand. It’s a family, it’s a statement of what’s possible. If a team can do all this; win football leagues, build the fastest cars, sign the best gamers, run air races, what are we all capable of? Red Bull just does rad s***, and I have loved being a part of it.
“I feel incredibly privileged to have driven for Red Bull Racing and been part of the Red Bull family for 10 years. They gave me my break, and without Dr. Marko spotting me all those years ago, I don’t think I would have been able to make my way to F1, to my dream job.
“I will remember this team, these great people, this family, forever. And that thought, right there, is when I found clarity. I’ve done so much with Red Bull… I’ve become who I’ve always wanted to be, right by their side. And I know, I know, that I can leave having given them my everything and having received the same in return.”