Daniel Ricciardo’s decision to leave Red Bull Racing for the works Renault team is arguably the most surprising F1 driver move since Lewis Hamilton switched from McLaren to Mercedes

It might prove just as inspired and well timed as that switch, too. Or it could leave Ricciardo was egg on his face, severely harming his career prospects. It's a proper gamble.

Interview: Daniel Ricciardo talks contracts, confidence and his dream three-car garage

On first impressions, it seems a backward step. Ricciardo has won seven races and scored 29 podiums since joining the main Red Bull team in 2014. And even if Red Bull has regressed somewhat since winning four straight titles with Sebastian Vettel from 2010 until 2013, it’s clearly been the third-best team behind Mercedes and Ferrari in recent years. 

With Mercedes sticking with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari having the pick of Kimi Raikkonen and Charles Leclerc to partner Sebastian Vettel next year, there’s no obvious forward step for Ricciardo. 

Instead, it seems Ricciardo has taken a step back. Red Bull has outperformed the works Renault team since the latter rejoined the grid in 2016 – using a customer supply of Renault power units. And the displeasure of Red Bull management with those engine is clear; they are adamant it’s the powertrain that’s been holding the team back from matching Mercedes and Ferrari.