Red Bull made the shock announcement that Ricciardo would leave the team at the end of this season which has paved the way for the Australian to move to Renault.
Ricciardo, who has seven F1 race wins all taken with Renault power, says it was ‘one of the most difficult decisions’ to make and has put his faith in the French manufacturer with a two-year deal.
“It was probably one of the most difficult decisions to take in my career so far,” Ricciaro said. “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 President Jerome Stoll welcomes Ricciardo as a driver ‘that could not be missed’ as part of its long-term target of fighting for Formula 1 world championship titles having returned to the sport as a manufacturer effort at the start of 2016.
“Renault decided to come back to Formula 1 to fight for world championships,” Stoll said. “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.”
The confirmation also sees Sainz leave the team after a one-year loan to Renault from Red Bull, with the Spanish driver a front-runner to take up the spot vacated by Ricciardo at the Milton Keynes-based squad.
Sainz is also linked with a move to McLaren, while Red Bull could look to its sister team Toro Rosso and standout young driver Pierre Gasly who recently secured an impressive sixth place at last week’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
Red Bull makes the move from Renault to Honda engines from 2019 and has already tied down Max Verstappen with a long-term deal.