Daniel Ricciardo fires back at Christian Horner over Red Bull exit and addresses critics

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F1 star Daniel Ricciardo has underlined his ambitions to win a championship at McLaren to prove his detractors wrong. The Australian surprised many by leaving Red Bull in 2018 despite the manufacturing giant making considerable moves in an attempt to convince him to stay.

Team principal Christian Horner recently confirmed Red Bull put “stratospheric” offers in front of Ricciardo as they wanted him to remain on their books. However, with a rising Max Verstappen refusing to be denied his ascent through their ranks, Ricciardo departed for Renault as he “didn’t want to become the second driver.”

The Australian finished ninth and fifth in his two seasons in Oxfordshire before joining McLaren ahead of the 2021 campaign. There, he placed eighth last term despite ending an almost three-year wait for a Grand Prix win (in Italy), while the current F1 season has seen him fail to score any points after two races.

“Obviously I would love to win a title with McLaren and then kind of say ‘I told you so’ or whatever but I appreciate until that happens then there will probably be that narrative with a lot of people,” Ricciardo told The Herald Sun ahead of his home Grand Prix in Melbourne on Sunday. “That’s OK. It doesn’t bother me. I also knew that it was also going to come with the territory of leaving a big team and obviously at the time I felt like that was the right thing for me.

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“You kind of stand by that and it really did feel like the right thing. It’s not something I look back on and regret it or think I should have done differently. But I guess as well now Red Bull are back on top or fighting again for the world titles, I knew that would come around as well. If Red Bull got back to the top, it would be like ‘If you were still there, look where you could be.'”

Aside from that win at Monza, Ricciardo failed to record another podium finish throughout his maiden year at McLaren. That’s in contrast to current team-mate Lando Norris, who placed among the top three on four occasions and finished sixth in the drivers’ standings.

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Despite his desire to not become second fiddle to Verstappen at Red Bull, that same fate appears to have befallen the 32-year-old in Surrey. But Ricciardo went on to specify there were “a lot of things internally” that influenced his decision to leave despite their superior chances at a championship.

“Internally you have to be comfortable with everything that is going on inside the team and in 2019 my engineer Simon (Rennie), who I really built a very good relationship with, he wasn’t going to be there in 2019 so I knew I was going to lose him if I stayed,” he continued. “And they were going to Honda. There were a lot of things that gave me a little bit of discomfort or lack of stability. I guess when you break it down it makes sense, but I totally get why people will say ‘You shouldn’t have done that’ or whatever.”

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