Daniel Ricciardo has called his rollercoaster 2018 to date "the weirdest season I've had in racing" as he prepares to enter his final six Formula 1 races as a Red Bull driver.

Ricciardo made a splash in only the third round of the season by taking a sensational victory in the Chinese Grand Prix, which was followed by a crushing performance en route to his maiden Monaco victory the following month.

The Australian then shocked the paddock by announcing in August he would be leaving Red Bull at the end of the year in order to join Renault for 2019, setting in motion a number of driver market moves.

"It’s been the weirdest season I’ve had in racing!" Ricciardo said, looking back on his year to date in an interview with the Red Bull Racing team website.

"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 has raced for Red Bull in F1 since 2014 and has ties to its motorsport programme dating back a decade, making his move to Renault the biggest shift of his career so far.

However, Ricciardo doubts the magnitude of the move will truly sink in until he has completed his final race for Red Bull in Abu Dhabi at the end of November.

"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."

 

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