Wed, Aug 8, 4:12pm by Staff Writer
Red-Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo has made a shock deflection to rival Renault after spending the past five seasons with Red Bull.
Despite seven race wins, Ricciardo is seeking a ‘fresh and new challenge’ as he joins the French manufacturer from 2019.
Ricciardo is a $251 long shot to win the 2018 Formula One Drivers Championship this season, as he sits in fifth position in the standings, 95 points adrift of current world champion Lewis Hamilton.
The Red Bull team currently features Ricciardo and 20-year-old Dutchman Max Verstappen.
The youngster is tipped to be a future world champion and is reportedly the third highest-paid Formula One driver behind Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.
To put that into perspective, McLaren’s two-time world champion Fernando Alonso is paid less than Verstappen this season.
Ricciardo has enjoyed intermittent success this season amidst some poor results.
Two race wins in the Chinese Grand Prix and Monaco Grand Prix are his only two podium finishes of the season, with the Australian regularly finishing in fourth or fifth place.
He has also suffered four retirements this season and despite leading teammate Verstappen in the Drivers Championship, has been in his shadow this season.
With Ricciardo’s contract with Red Bull expiring at the end of the season, many had hoped Ricciardo would join Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.
When the German manufacturer re-signed Valtteri Bottas, hopes of that evaporated.
Ferrari have already locked up Sebastian Vettel and should Kimi Raikkonen retire at season’s end, the 38-year-old world champion is likely to be replaced by Sauber’s Charles Leclerc.
Renault made the most sense for Ricciardo, given they have a driving vacancy and the best pedigree of the remaining manufacturers.
Spaniard Carlos Sainz is tipped to leave Renault and is $4 to return to his former home at Red Bull alongside Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg.
McLaren have struggled in the Formula One since 2012, not winning a race as they are going through a redevelopment phase with Fernando Alonso their biggest name at present.
Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly is the $1.57 favourite to land at Red Bull next season, with Sainz and Fernando Alonso ($5.50) the next in line to drive for the German manufacturers.
To Drive for Red Bull in 2019
Pierre Gasly $1.57
Carlos Sainz $4
Fernando Alonso $5.50
Esteban Ocon $17
Kimi Raikkonen $17
F1 Drivers Championship 2018
Lewis Hamilon $1.40
Sebastian Vettel $2.75
Kimi Raikkonen $151
Valtteri Bottas $151
Daniel Ricciardo $251
Max Verstappen $251
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