Christian Horner once made huge swipe at Daniel Ricciardo: ‘Running from a fight’

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Christian Horner is known as one of the most outspoken voices in F1. The Red Bull team principal rarely shies away from a war of words, even with those he used to work with. Horner’s honesty was on display in 2019 when he discussed the departure of Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull the previous year. The Australian moved to Renault having grown frustrated with his role in the team.

In 2019’s series of ‘Drive to Survive’, Horner accused Ricciardo of “running from a fight”.

He said: “Is he (Ricciardo) making the right career choice? My assumption is that he is running from a fight (with Max Verstappen).”

Ricciardo’s career has once again become a topic of conversation this week after Horner suggested once again that the McLaren driver made a bad decision to leave Red Bull.

Horner said Ricciardo showcased “spectacularly bad timing” when he declined a “stratospheric offer” to remain with his team in 2018.

The Red Bull boss told The Weekend Australian: “Daniel could see Max in the ascendancy and he didn’t want to become the second driver.

“His timing was spectacularly bad because obviously he had doubts about the Honda engine and then [Honda] went on to prove it was a competitive power unit and a race-winning package.’’

Ricciardo has responded this week, telling the Herald Sun: “Obviously I would love to win a title with McLaren and then kind of say, ‘I told you so,’ or whatever.

“But I appreciate until that happens then there will probably be that narrative [of bad timing] with a lot of people.

“That’s okay, it doesn’t bother me. I also knew that it was going to come with the territory of leaving a big team and obviously at the time I felt like that was the right thing for me.

“You kind of stand by that and it really did feel like the right thing.”

Ricciardo added that he “knew” Red Bull would compete at the front again, and that there were several factors behind him leaving the team.

He continued: “It’s not something I look back on and regret or think I should have done differently.

“But I guess as well now Red Bull are back on top or fighting again for the World titles, I knew that would come around as well.

“There are also a lot of things internally in the team so it’s not just [about] ‘the car is fast, you should have stayed’.”

Ricciardo’s performances have left a lot to be desired since he joined McLaren in 2021.

He struggled in his first season, regularly being outpaced by teammate Lando Norris who was regularly competing for podiums.

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The Australian did enjoy some brighter moments, including his surprise win at Monza.

This season could be even more of a struggle for Ricciardo – McLaren struggled for pace in the first two races, and the former Red Bull man was even knocked out of Q1 in Bahrain.

McLaren will feel more optimistic after today’s Australian Grand Prix as Norris secured P5 while Ricciardo came home in P6.

Ricciardo described the team’s performances as a “mega” turnaround.

He said: “After Bahrain I was still very positive and I knew we could make a turnaround. Didn’t think it would happen already.

“For that reason, I’ll definitely take it. As a whole, it was certainly better. Team result was mega compared to the last few.

“It’s just been smoother for all of us and we’ve shown a lot more for it. Parts of the race were certainly more competitive; the beginning I felt strong on the medium [and] I thought we had something for Mercedes early on, but then they were able to remind us that they are still a bit quicker.”

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