Daniel Ricciardo is confident Red Bull and Renault could work together again should the two teams be forced to reunite after Honda announced it would leave F1 at the end of 2021.
Before the Aussie driver quit Red Bull at the end of 2018, the energy drink team was involved in constant spats with engine supplier Renault, complaining about repeated mechanical failures it blamed on unreliable power units.
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Red Bull chief Christian Horner and Ricciardo’s boss at Renault Cyril Abiteboul regularly took pot shots at each other until their bitter break-up was finalised before the 2019 season.
That was when Honda jumped in to supply Red Bull’s engines, and things seemed promising — particularly after Max Verstappen scored a podium finish in Melbourne as the partnership made its F1 debut.
But the Japanese manufacturer recently announced it would exit F1 at the end of next season, citing a desire to devote more resources towards developing carbon-free technologies and tackling climate change.
Honda’s impending departure has sparked speculation Red Bull, on the hunt for a new engine provider, may have to link up with Renault again — something Ricciardo believes both teams could make work a second time around.
“There are emotions, and then there’s business, and there’s time,” Ricciardo told Motorsport.com. “Time heals a lot of things, and whether things weren’t seeing eye-to-eye a few years ago or whatever it was, I don’t think that will necessarily remain forever.
“If that’s what ends up happening in the future, I think they can get back on good working terms. I never experienced anything that was irreparable, so I’m not concerned if that’s what they do. I think they’ll get on with it.”
Uncertainty about how the new relationship with Honda would pan out played a part in Ricciardo leaving Red Bull for Renault, who he will finish up with this season after agreeing to a new deal with McLaren for 2021.
The 31-year-old says Red Bull has nothing to worry about it in the post-Honda era if it can still build a good chassis, and takes no satisfaction from seeing the relationship between his former team and its engine supplier end.
Ricciardo just hopes his old colleagues can find a solution to their latest problem.
“I’m not jumping around saying, ‘Oh yeah look, I was right (to be cautious about the Honda partnership)’. It’s nothing like that,” Ricciardo said.
“As far as Red Bull and my relationship with them and a lot of personnel in the team, I kept that strong throughout. Even through my decision, I kept good relationships. I never wanted them to struggle or suffer.
“Now they’ve got a decision to make with what happens next. I don’t really look at it in a personal light of me winning or losing. It’s just the nature of the sport.
“There’s always a chance. The sport, it’s always changing so much, so there is a chance of stuff like this happens.
“I do hope they find a solution, a good one, and they stay afloat and keep becoming a rival for the rest of us.”