Ricciardo joins Renault F1 team on two-year deal

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This morning Australians are waking up to the news that Aussie F1 driver Daniel Riccardo is leaving Red Bull.

Daniel Ricciardo announced a switch to Renault for the 2019 season on Friday, ending his time at Red Bull, but McLaren boss Zak Brown believes his team came close to luring the Australian to Woking.

"Perhaps it was the most hard decision of my career".

Renault, with drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz, is fourth in the constructors' standings.

Despite team boss Christian Horner claiming a new deal was close only last month, the 29-year-old has since decided to make the move to Renault. Ricciardo is a seven-time race victor and regarded as one of the best drivers in the field, and he's taking a leap of faith to a team with a top finish of fifth in 2018.

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"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", he added.

So too was staying put at Red Bull, however, with the former champions switching from Renault to Honda power next season.

Renault appeared to confirm that Sainz would be making way for Ricciardo. This indicates Max will be Red Bull's de facto numero uno driver for the upcoming season. "We would like to thank him for his dedication and the role he has played since joining the team in 2014, the highlights, of course, being the seven wins and the 29 podiums he has achieved so far with us", said Christian Horner, team principal of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Team.

"Red Bull is a great racing team but I think Fernando has got what he wants to do in the back of his mind".

The promising Sainz, who like Ricciardo is a product of Red Bull's driver development programme, is one driver already looking for a seat. Rumours peaked at the French Grand Prix but subsequently subsided as it appeared that the Australian had chose to stay put at Red Bull.

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At Haas, one of two Ferrari "satellite" teams, the likely pairing for 2019 is current driver Jan Magnussen with Charles Leclerc, who will be promoted from Alfa Romeo-Sauber on the way to an eventual drive at Ferrari.

Brown certainly wasn't surprised by Ricciardo's decision to leave Red Bull, where he's been for the past five seasons in Formula 1.

"I really appreciate it, from the bottom of my heart, and we've got nine races left to kick some arse, so let's get it".

Team president Jerome Stoll added: "Renault made a decision to come back to Formula One to fight for world championships".

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