Formula 1

Red Bull’s Bold Offer to Ricciardo Unveiled: Inside the High-Stakes F1 Contract Negotiations

Christian Horner of Red Bull Racing recently revealed the dramatic details of Daniel Ricciardo’s contract negotiations, including a lucrative offer to match teammate Max Verstappen’s salary. Despite this, Ricciardo chose to join Renault, a decision he later regretted, as recounted by Horner.

Key Takeaways:

  • Red Bull’s Generous Proposal: Red Bull was prepared to offer Daniel Ricciardo a contract matching Max Verstappen’s, worth $10 million, to retain his services and keep the successful driver pairing intact.
  • A Sudden Change of Heart: Ricciardo, feeling overshadowed by his teammate, considered the significant offer from Red Bull but was eventually swayed by the prospect of being a leading figure at Renault, despite a dramatic engine failure during testing that raised doubts.
  • The Aftermath of the Decision: Christian Horner shared that Ricciardo later admitted to regretting his decision to move to Renault, acknowledging during the pandemic year that he was wrongly advised at the time.

The Formula 1 world was taken aback when Daniel Ricciardo announced his departure from Red Bull Racing to join Renault. This move was in stark contrast to Red Bull’s substantial efforts to keep him. Christian Horner, Red Bull’s team principal, shed light on these efforts in a revealing episode of the “eff won with DRS” podcast.

Horner recollected the events of 2018, focusing on Verstappen’s contract and Ricciardo’s growing discontent. He narrated a significant conversation with Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz before the Austrian Grand Prix, where Mateschitz assured Ricciardo of equal treatment and financial parity with Verstappen.

Despite these assurances and a proposed salary that matched Verstappen’s, Ricciardo’s doubts persisted. His hesitation intensified after a Renault engine failure during testing, leading him to request a shorter contract duration. Red Bull accommodated this, yet Ricciardo remained uncommitted.

The suspense ended with an unexpected revelation from Ricciardo, as Horner described:

“‘I’m not going to sign the contract. I’m going to take another contract.’ I was like ‘wow, okay, have Mercedes or Ferrari come through with something?’ And he went ‘no, I’m going to sign for Renault.’”

Horner’s disbelief was palpable, thinking it a jest at first. However, Ricciardo’s decision was final, marking a significant shift in his career.

In an interesting turn of events, Ricciardo reached out to Horner during the pandemic, expressing his regret over the decision. He acknowledged Horner’s insight and apologized for not heeding the advice, revealing the full circle of his career trajectory.

Ricciardo’s journey serves as a testament to the intricate and often unpredictable nature of F1 contract negotiations and career decisions. His experience underscores the challenges drivers face in balancing personal ambition with team dynamics and the ever-present lure of new opportunities.

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