I for one am surprised.
Might Max be his kryptonite, or does he feel beating a team mate is key when you're not winning championships anyway? Renault right now is a lot down on chassis pace. Just not as much as McLaren, which says very little in this season.
Normally we'd expect Ricciardo to whip Hulk a bit. But at current performance levels, Ricciardo would still finish 7th unless a top 3 team has an issue.
RIC's reputation is dwindling. And that's with 2 wins this season in the 3rd fastest car (albeit one race, a dominant car and wrecked team mate).
HE was the Vettel killer, unbeatable on one-lap pace. Max arrives, and wins his first race. Then quali gets better and better. Now, RIC is basically a given slower qualifier than Max. That is, he got in front once, the other 2 times, Max crashed himself out of contention :-)
RB wanted to keep him. Renault wanted to have him in the Toro Rosso Honda deal.
Seems like Hulk's cred is also dropping with this switch, do Renault say they need a big bucks driver for the future, Hulk's not #1 driver material to them anymore?