Ricciardo: Red Bull's handling of Baku crash a factor in exit
Daniel Ricciardo has admitted that the way Red Bull handled his collision with Max Verstappen in Baku last year played a part in his decision to leave the team for Renault.
The Australian and his then teammate caused controversy in Azerbaijan when an intense on-track battle culminated in a spectacular crash.
The incident left Red Bull chiefs furious, and both drivers were told to apologise to staff at the factory.
Reflecting now on the circumstances that led to him choosing Renault over Red Bull for 2019, Ricciardo says that he felt it was unfair of his former team to blame him and Verstappen equally for what happened.
Speaking about the factors that prompted his decision, Ricciardo said: “I couldn’t tell you how many little pieces made up the puzzle, the kaleidoscope, but I guess that [Baku] was one of the little pieces.
“We both got a talking to, putting it politely, but in my eyes, I felt like I was not really in the wrong even though I was the one that hit him. I think most people saw the double move.
“Even before that, there was a lot of contact and I think a lot of people thought it went on too long.
"I guess the way it was handled at the time didn’t sit too well with me, so that was like a little thing that bothered me. But it wasn’t the dealbreaker, if you know what I mean.”
Asked if he felt that Verstappen should have been told off more for the incident, Ricciardo said: “Yeah. Handling the media I get, and it [Red Bull] is a big brand to look after. So again it doesn’t help if we both go off at each other and that.
“I kind of felt like there was a bit of equal blame. And maybe that is me being a stubborn race car driver, but I didn’t feel it was an equal incident I guess. That is the easiest way to put it.”
Despite his unease over Red Bull’s reaction to the Verstappen crash in Baku, he insists he never had a personal problem with the Dutchman, nor felt that his teammate played political games with him.
“I don’t necessarily think Max was political. Just Max is Max,” he said. “Even now it is done and I don’t need to be careful with what I say, it was actually pretty good.
“Look, some of the flamboyancy with Max, that is just with age as well, and I guess from that point of view I would expect less with Nico [Hulkenberg] just because it is a bit of an age gap and maturity.
"Nico has been around the block plenty of times. But going back to Max... I don’t think he was political. It was fun.”
Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Sutton Images
Ricciardo makes Renault F1 debut as RS19 hits track
Williams forced to skip first day of Barcelona test