Startling new figures reveal Daniel Ricciardo’s massive pay rise, with the Aussie almost tripling his salary after joining Renault.
The Aussie turned heads in 2018 after deciding to jump ship from the Red Bull team that had helped make him a household name.
Many experts in the motorsport world viewed Ricciardo’s move as a step backwards for his career, with Renault consistently not among the top teams in the sport.
However, in a report by Britain’s The Mirror detailing the salaries of all the drivers competing in the F1, it shows that in monetary terms, Ricciardo’s move represents a massive step forward for the 29-year-old.
The Aussie comes in third on the list of the sport’s top earners, with Mercedes’ defending champion Lewis Hamilton ($73.74m) unsurprisingly leading the way.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel ($56.23m) comes in second, with Ricciardo’s salary of almost $49-million seeing him take third place.
Curiously, Ricciardo’s staggering new deal means he’s on more than two-and-a-half times what former Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen ($18.43m) – fourth on the list – is earning.
That is despite Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul claiming in January that the team hadn’t paid “stupid money” for Ricciardo.
“There is a considerable financial commitment from Renault,” Abiteboul told Motorsport.
“But it is not a question of whether Renault can afford it: it can definitely afford it as our turnover is 40 times the turnover of Red Bull. There is no question mark about that.
“The question mark is about the value. Does it make sense to invest that type of money in a driver at the level of Daniel at this point of our journey, with the car that we have and the other expense that we must do? We believe so.
“There has been some discussion about that. Would we be better off investing in to the car or the drivers?
“I think we have reached a point where we can invest in both reasonably.”
Top five Formula 1 driver salaries in full
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) $73.74m
Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) $56.23m
Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) $48.86m
Max Verstappen (Red Bull) $18.43m
Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) $11.98m
Ricciardo keeping expectations in check
Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix marks Ricciardo’s debut race with the Renault team.
The Aussie, though, is no stranger to Renault have run their engines during his years with Red Bull Racing.
Earlier this month Ricciardo completed a solid pre-season with Renault, with the seven-time grand prix winner predicting his new team is somewhere in F1’s ‘very close’ midfield.
“I still don’t really know what to expect in Melbourne,” he told Racer.
“I think the midfield battle will be very close.
“I don’t expect to be on the front row, but I don’t expect to be on the back row of the grid.
“We will be somewhere there in the middle.”
In fact such is Ricciardo’s belief in how close the midfield is that he reckons it will be up to the drivers as to where they qualify behind the leading teams.
“It could even come down to which driver does the better lap in Q2 or Q3,” he said.
“A lot of the cars are going to be very close.
“So it could just be whoever does a cleaner lap – that could make a difference of one or even three positions.
“I’m looking forward to seeing where everyone is at. It has been pretty close in testing.
“You are still going to get the top couple of teams having a bit of a gap to the rest at the start of the season, but the midfield certainly seems like it is going to be close.
“It could also just be down to track temperatures; which layout suits a particular team.
“I also don’t think what we will see in Melbourne is going to be the way the whole season plays out.
“It is going to change quite a bit throughout the season, especially in the first six races.”
But while Ricciardo hopes Renault top the midfield battle, he’s also looking forward to scraps he will have getting there.
“I’m certainly looking forward to battles. Obviously the further up the grid, the better! I’m expecting a lot.
“The midfield looks really close, and even last year it was tight, you could always see that battle for fourth position in the Constructors’ so that was always going to be close. Looking forward to that.
“The further up the front, the more fun I’ll be having. In the past few years I’ve said winning is the greatest satisfaction you get from racing, but the second biggest thing is battling and fighting.
“Just driving around for 60 laps by yourself isn’t so fun, so if you’re in a battle and you get the most of that battle that’s very rewarding.”