Renault: We had to sign Daniel Ricciardo

Max Verstappen has enjoyed the inside running at Red Bull

Max Verstappen has enjoyed the inside running at Red Bull

You look at the rational reasons for that, it's hard to understand. "I can't help but feel that was perhaps a large part of Daniel's decision making".

The Red Bull boss said he actually offered Ricciardo a one-year deal in case he was waiting for a spot at Mercedes or Ferrari to open up in 2020.

'The competition between he and Max is intense. So I think we are going to sit back and just evaluate what the situation is and also see what comes out of the woodwork because it is an incredibly attractive auto to be driving.

'In terms of speed and strength and he doesn't want to play a support role, not that they are in any way treated different'.

"I think Daniel decided after a long flight to America, he decided he wanted a change", says the Briton.

"I have to admit it's kind of been like trying to convince a girl to go out with you that's been pretty reticent".

Verstappen doesn’t have the power to veto Carlos Sainz or anyone else Red Bull says
Verstappen doesn’t have the power to veto Carlos Sainz or anyone else Red Bull says

"Both of those guys [Sainz and Gasly] are very quick drivers so I think this just gives us an opportunity to take a breath". We have bent over backwards to make it happen, but if someone's heart isn't really in it, then... We were even prepared to do a one-year agreement so he was available to Ferrari or Mercedes should they come knocking in 12 months' time.

Horner revealed that Ricciardo only let him know about the decision the day before it was announced and said he first thought his driver was winding him up. I think it comes back to wanting to take on, his words, "a new challenge".

'But I think it still wasn't enough, it wasn't about money, it wasn't about status, it wasn't about position or commitment or duration, ' he said. Is this a wind-up for the summer holidays?' But it then became very clear that was his choice and you have to respect that.

Acknowledging Ricciardo's gamble on Renault "may prove an inspired choice or something he regrets", Horner also admitted he was caught by surprise when his driver informed him he was departing to Red Bull's engine providers.

The Australian's contract is up at the end of the year and he will join the Renault works team for the 2019 season.

Red Bull's sister team Toro Rosso have highly rated Frenchman Pierre Gasly in their ranks who could step up in Ricciardo's place.

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