F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo to join Renault next season

Australian F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo has announced he will join Renault from Red Bull for next season.

The 29-year-old, who made his Red Bull debut in 2014, has signed a two-year contract and will team up with Nico Hulkenburg.

“It was probably one of the most difficult decisions to take in my career so far, but I thought that it was time for me to take on a fresh and new challenge,” said Ricciardo.

“I realize that there is a lot ahead in order to allow Renault to reach their target of competing at the highest level but I have been impressed by their progression in only two years, and I know that each time Renault has been in the sport they eventually won. I hope to be able to help them in this journey and contribute on and off track.”

Ricciardo has recorded seven victories and 29 podiums for Red Bull, having previously competed for the team’s junior outfit Toro Rosso.

“We fully respect Daniel’s decision to leave Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and we wish him all the best in his future,” said team principal Christian Horner, who told CNN Sport at the start of the season that he hoped to extend Ricciardo’s contract.

“We will now continue to evaluate the numerous options available to us before deciding on which driver partners Max Verstappen for the 2019 season.

“In the meantime, there are still nine races left in 2018 and we are fully focused on maximizing every opportunity for Max and Daniel for the remainder of the season.”

Ricciardo made his F1 debut in 2011 and has been a member of Red Bull since 2008 having come through the team’s junior ranks.

This season he is fifth in the drivers’ standings — 13 points ahead of teammate Verstappen and behind rivals from Mercedes and Ferrari — after victories in Monaco and Shanghai.

Ricciardo has failed to finish higher than third in the drivers’ standings in his four seasons with Red Bull.