Daniel Ricciardo admits the prospect of leaving Red Bull behind for a new challenge with Renault is “f****** terrifying”.
The Australian came through the ranks with Red Bull, driving for Toro Rosso in Formula One before starring with the senior team, but he departs for Renault at the end of the year.
Ricciardo was offered a new contract at Red Bull, where he has celebrated seven race wins, and says he faced an “all-consuming” decision in the mid-season break.
But the 29-year-old finally settled on the move and remains confident it was the right call, even if the thought of change is a scary one.
“I feel incredibly privileged to have driven for Red Bull Racing and been part of the Red Bull family for 10 years,” Ricciardo wrote in The Players’ Tribune.
“They gave me my break, and without Dr [Helmut] Marko spotting me all those years ago, I don’t think I would have been able to make my way to F1, to my dream job. I will remember this team, these great people, this family, forever.
“And that thought, right there, is when I found clarity. I’ve done so much with Red Bull. I’ve become who I’ve always wanted to be, right by their side. And I know, I know, that I can leave having given them my everything and having received the same in return.
“But I needed to listen to my heart, I needed to go it alone and make my own decision.
“Change is scary – it’s f****** terrifying. And I know the next part of my journey won’t always be easy, but I had to take this step to try to be the best version of me. That’s all it was.
“It was the next step, the next leap, a new challenge. I’m going to Renault next year and I’m going with an open mind and a full heart.
“Nobody has a crystal ball or can predict the future or the results of my decision, but nonetheless a decision was made.”
The Australian will take part in his final race for the team this weekend ahead of a move to Renault in 2019.
Ricciardo, who has won seven grands prix in 99 races for Red Bull including this year’s Monaco grand prix, says he’s ready for a tough day mentally at the Yas Marina circuit and will probably have a “right good cry” when he gets out of the car.