Grand Prix racing was stunned when Ricciardo revealed his move – but Ricciardo said it was vital the world realised there was more to him than smiles and shoey celebrations.

But he admitted the decision came after some soul-searching about his future and whether he even wanted to carry on racing.

"There's been times this year that I've felt exhausted, maybe a bit jaded, and for the first time in my career, not completely enjoying F1," Ricciardo told Fairfax Media.

"There's been times when I've thought, 'This is why [2016 world champion Nico] Rosberg retired', and he had it a lot more intense than me. Or why Casey Stoner retired from MotoGP very young.

"I can see how you could feel burnt out or a bit over it."

Outsiders had expected him to stay with Red Bull after four years with the team following two seasons at feeder team Torro Rosso – and the move to the struggling Renault outfit shocked many.

"I think a lot of people expected me to take the soft option and stay because they see me as a soft guy," Ricciardo said..

"I'm maybe perceived as someone who is a friendly guy who wouldn't push back and make a big decision. It's good for everyone to see that I have the balls to make a call like this."

He added: "There were several options. I spoke to Renault, I had a couple of meetings with McLaren, and I got to speak with [Red Bull company founder] Dietrich [Mateschitz] in Barcelona and again in Austria.

"Initially, I had it in my mind that I'd be staying [at Red Bull]. But the more I thought about starting something different and taking on a new challenge, I got excited.

"The thing that struck me about Renault was that they were prepared to be honest. Straight away, they said, 'We're not going to be quicker than Red Bull next year', but what they told me about their plans for 2020 and for when the next rule changes come in for '21.

"They have a winning mentality and a realistic way of going about it, which I liked."

Ricciardo made his final decision during a 10 hour flight across the Atlantic to Los Angeles.

"There was something about being alone on that flight that gave me the clarity I needed," he admitted.

"The one thing I kept coming back to was being energised again, wanting a new challenge, and that the chance to change excited me.

He added: "I'm sad to move on, absolutely, but excited by the challenge at Renault. Personally I felt it was good for me to have a fresh start somewhere else, I think it will be healthy.

"I've been pretty stressed all year, and now life feels pretty stress-free."