Daniel Ricciardo admits he has been left “surprised” by Sebastian Vettel's decision to leave Red Bull.
Vettel is set to join Ferrari next season after informing Red Bull that he would be leaving at the end of the year
, with the team opting to promote Daniil Kvyat alongside Ricciardo. While Ricciardo said he had a feeling Vettel could leave he admitted his surprise but said he expected Kvyat to be the next Red Bull driver.
“A bit surprised," Ricciardo said. "I didn't rule anything out. So I wasn't convinced he would stay, I wasn't convinced he would go. But I thought if he was to go that Daniil would be the one to replace him so I got that part right I guess.”
Ricciardo also said Alonso would have been a good candidate to swap with Vettel but feels his own performances this year have proven Red Bull right to trust its young drivers.
“It is a little bit surprising [Alonso was overlooked] but I think in a way Red Bull took a similar risk – I was a bit more experienced but a similar scenario with me last year and I think that's paid off really well for them. So they have that same opportunity now to take with Danny and I'm sure he's a bit cheaper as well than Alonso! Maybe that money can go in to the development and we can hopefully fight again next year as well for the world title.”
And Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the team would not be weakened because Ricciardo had proven himself as a world class driver this season.
“As Mr Mateschitz would say, no risk, no fun. I think we've demonstrated in Daniel Ricciardo this year we've got a world class driver. What he's demonstrated has been phenomenal on track and in Daniil Kvyat we've got a really exciting young prospect for the future in just the same way that Sebastian Vettel was.
“Giving these youngsters a chance – they're the next generation.”