Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul claims that his team was not the highest bidding outfit for Daniel Ricciardo. In the week following the Hungarian Grand Prix, Ricciardo announced that he would be leaving Red Bull at the end of the year.
Confirmation soon came through that he would be taking up a seat at Renault, who is still building since it re-joined as a works team in 2016. On Thursday in Belgium, Ricciardo claimed that he wanted a fresh start at a new team
"I guess I got to a point where I felt I was ready for a change, that was the long and short of it, I was ready for a new challenge, for me personally some fresh motivation," he said. "That sounds easy saying it like that, it wasn’t easy. Once I made that decision and pulled the trigger I felt comfortable with it and it feels right for next year."
And Abiteboul says that Ricciardo didn't move on a money-based deal, as he had more expensive offers elsewhere: "Renault is the largest car maker involved in Formula 1 - full stop," the Frenchman stated. "So we can afford anything as long as it makes sense.
"Then it's just a question of value for money and whether it makes sense to spend that given where we are in the development of our team. Second, I don't think we were the highest bidder in obtaining Daniel, without going into details.
"He bought into the project not necessarily because of the money. I don't think it would be great to put this sort of light on Daniel. And lastly, it would not make any sense to bring a driver by having to make some concession on our capacity to finance the development of the engine or the chassis. So, in shorthand, obviously it means an increase of our budget."
The unexpected move has drawn comparisons to 2012, when Lewis Hamilton decided his time with McLaren was at an end. The Briton joined Mercedes for the 2013 season in a move that many questioned - but he has since gone on to take three world titles with the Silver Arrows.
And Abiteboul has welcomed the likening of the two moves: "I genuinely believe there was a good reason for him and for us for that happening now and this point in his and our journey," Abiteboul told Sky F1. "But it's not something we are taking lightly. We know this is a big decision.
"I think he has in mind some good examples in the past. [With] Lewis Hamilton, everyone is obviously trying to draw some comparison. I hope and believe there will be that comparison and the next reference will be Renault and Daniel in the future in the history books."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing