Daniel Ricciardo has described his 2018 season as the weirdest year he's ever had in racing. The Australian drove a masterful race in China at the start of the season to take victory, before dominating proceeding in Monaco, taking the win despite running with an engine issue.
After months of speculation about his future, Ricciardo shocked the paddock when he announced he would joining Renault in 2019, right when he looked set to extend his deal with Red Bull.
Speaking about his season so far, the 29-year-old said: "It’s been the weirdest season I’ve had in racing! 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 described his move to Renault as a fresh start, penning a two-year deal with the French squad. However, he admits that he doesn't think he'll understand the full scope of departing Red Bull until after the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
"It feels mostly real, but 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," Ricciardo 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."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing