Renault has announced Daniel Ricciardo for the 2019 Formula 1 season alongside Nico Hulkenberg in the French outfit.
The Australian was confirmed to leave Red Bull earlier in the day and has now been announced to join Renault in a two-year deal to pair up with Nico Hulkenberg, replacing Carlos Sainz.
“It was probably one of the most difficult decisions to take in my career so far,” said the Australian, upon the announcement. “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.”
Renault’s President, Jerome Stoll said: 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 added: “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.”
The move comes as a shock in the F1 world as Ricciardo was anticipated to re-sign with Red Bull in another deal. However, he has no decided to move away from the Red Bull family after 10 years to join a manufacturer team.
He replaces a fellow Red Bull driver Sainz, who fought his way into Renault last year mid-season, now finds himself in a situation with no race seat. Ideally, he should take Ricciardo’s seat but will have Pierre Gasly to fight off.
The Spaniard has been linked to join McLaren but it remains to be seen if Red Bull will let go two of its young drivers at the same time to opposition teams. For Ricciardo, this move could work wonders if Renault finally is able to fight the top teams in the coming seasons.