Daniel Ricciardo says 2018 has been his “weirdest season” in Formula 1, due to his downturn in results after a promising start, and his impending exit from Red Bull.
Ricciardo surged to victory in China and dominated the weekend in Monaco to take two wins from the opening six Grands Prix, but has failed to even mount the podium since, with technical issues also impacting his results.
Ricciardo also decided prior to the summer break that he would call time on his decade-long association with Red Bull for a fresh start with Renault in 2019.
“It’s been the weirdest season I’ve had in racing,” he said in an interview with the official Red Bull website.
“Winning two of the first six races is probably the strongest start I’ve ever had to an F1 season.
“After Monaco, I was thinking that the season looked very promising, and that we might even be in with an outside chance of fighting for the title.
“I still feel I’m driving well and applying myself properly but for all sorts of reasons it hasn’t really worked out since then.
“My confidence has never dipped – but my motivation and love for the sport has been a bit up and down – though I tend to bounce back from that pretty quickly.”
Ricciardo feels that the enormity of leaving Red Bull will only fully sink in once he concludes his final Grand Prix with the team in Abu Dhabi in November.
“Honestly, I think when the chequered flag drops in Abu Dhabi, and I take off the Red Bull overalls for the last time, that’s when it’s going to hit me,” he said.
“It’s not so much the ‘moving to Renault’ part, as it is the ‘closing the book on this part of my career’ bit. From an emotional point of view, that’s when it’s going to hit me.
“I’ve been wearing a Red Bull helmet for over a decade now. It’s been a fun journey and we’re certainly not splitting on bad terms. I’m ready for something new.
“I’m going to be 30 next year and I felt like it was time for the next part of my adulthood. It may sound silly but, having been with Red Bull for so long, I felt it was time I made a decision for myself and put myself out there.
“It’s been a very good journey with Red Bull but sometimes it has been very easy because everything is so familiar.
“It would be easy to slip into some form of complacency, get stuck in a routine. I didn’t want that to happen. I wanted to challenge myself again.”