Red Bull Racing principal Christian Horner claims Daniel Ricciardo called him full of regret after leaving Milton Keynes. The Aussie F1 driver went through a tumultuous four years away from the team before rejoining Red Bull Racing this season as a reserve driver.
Ricciardo was recently dropped by McLaren with one year still to run on his contract and then took over from Nyck de Vries at the Red Bull-owned AlphaTauri team in July. The Aussie will line up alongside Yuki Tsunoda again next season with his sights set on ultimately taking Sergio Pérez’s seat in the senior squad the following year.
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The Aussie left Red Bull Racing at the end of 2018 to join Renault before swapping teams again to join McLaren. While he has repeatedly insisted he has no regrets about his career moves, Horner claims Ricciardo called him to admit he was wrong to ever leave Red Bull Racing.
“I think he recognised that he made a mistake. He had no good advice around him at the point that he left us," Horner said on Dax Shepard’s Eff Won podcast. “Having spent a few years outside of the family he suddenly realised that, ‘Whoa, actually what I had was really good’.
“Actually it was during the pandemic, I remember he called me and he said, ‘Christian, I hate to say this to you, but you were absolutely right, and I apologise’ and so on.” Horner did not make reference to when this phone call was made.
Horner says Ricciardo leaving was a result of getting bad advice
The Red Bull Racing principal says he believes the Aussie was a victim of bad management when he made the switch to Enstone. “There was an element of [spite] at the time, thinking, ‘You know what? Okay. Go and suck on the lemon for a bit’,” Horner said. “He was very badly advised in his earlier career. Everybody f**ks up at some point.
“We gave Max a contract at the beginning of that year in 2018 to secure his future. Daniel, I remember being upset at the time. He suddenly felt that, ‘Hang on, I don’t want to be the support act here’.
“I could tell he was starting to think of being a bigger fish in a smaller pond. He got a lot of noise in his ear that this is the Max show. Money (from Renault) was also on the table.”
At the time Ricciardo was managed by Glen Beavis. The pair went their separate ways in 2019, and Ricciardo sought management from CAA Sports. Horner is understood to be a principal backer in Ricciardo's return to Red Bull.
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