Christian Horner has revealed Daniel Ricciardo refused a “stratospheric” offer to keep him at Red Bull since when he feels the Australian has endured “a hard time” in F1.
After two seasons of learning his trade at Toro Rosso, Ricciardo was promoted to Red Bull in 2014 as the replacement for fellow Australian Mark Webber.
Ricciardo more than held his own against four-time champion Sebastian Vettel in his first year with Red Bull, winning three races that season.
The arrival of Max Verstappen in 2016, however, changed the dynamic within the team, leading to Ricciardo’s shock decision to quit and join struggling Renault for 2019, despite Red Bull’s best efforts to retain him.
Speaking to The Weekend Australian, Horner has revealed offers were put in front of Ricciardo “that were stratospheric”.
Explaining the reasons behind Ricciardo’s exit, Horner added: “Daniel could see Max in the ascendancy and he didn’t want to become the second driver.
“His timing was spectacularly bad because obviously, he had doubts about the Honda engine and then [Honda] went on to prove there it was a competitive power unit and a race-winning package.’’
Ricciardo in a “tough” time – Horner
It was not until last season, following a move to McLaren after two years at Renault, that Ricciardo ended a near three-and-a-half-year winless drought.
Horner feels Ricciardo’s talents have been wasted, and now he is in the same situation at McLaren as he was at Red Bull in going up against a young, hungry driver in Lando Norris.
“Daniel is a great driver and we were sad when he decided to leave the team here,’’ reflected Horner.
“And, you know it’s unfortunately not worked out for him the way he would have liked.
“He’s great natural abilities, a big personality. Of course, now he’s got a competitive team-mate as well. It’s given him a hard time and you know, that’s tough for him.’’