Ricciardo nears Red Bull deal amid ‘limited options'


Ferrari’s lack of interest has prompted Daniel Ricciardo to stay put at Red Bull 

Daniel Ricciardo has admitted that he expected a stronger approach from Ferrari for his services next season, as he nears an extension to his current deal with Red Bull Racing.

Ricciardo currently holds one of the keys to the Grand Prix driver market, with his current deal with Red Bull due to expire at the end of this season. The 29-year-old Australian was a product of the fizzy drinks firm’s Junior Team driver development programme and broke into F1 with Toro Rosso in 2011. Since being promoted to Red Bull’s top table in 2014, he has scored seven Grand Prix victories and established himself as a leading light for the team.

While he has been approached by both Renault and McLaren, Ricciardo admits his opportunities to move further up the grid are thin.

If the team starts winning after I’ve gone then I’ll be like ‘Oh wow, what have I done?’

It had been rumoured that Ricciardo had already held negotiations – and even signed a deal for a period of exclusivity – with Ferrari for 2019, but both sides quashed the speculation.

“I actually thought there would be more interest than there has been from them [Ferrari],” he says, “but maybe something has happened or whatever, I don’t know. It’s probably safe to say that my options are pretty limited.

“I don’t think there will be much movement at the top. Mercedes won’t change their drivers and Ferrari, who knows with them? They have Kimi [Räikkonen], and now there’s talk about [Charles] Leclerc, but I don’t know what they’ll do.

“I’m obviously leaning toward staying here – I expect to have something signed, sealed and delivered by the summer break. It’s definitely getting closer.”

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Red Bull embarks on a new era next season with Honda power in the back of its car. And the early signs suggest that’s beginning to sound like a good move, he says.

“With the Honda deal now sorted, it’s like ‘Right, here’s what we have to work with and now I just have to be sure if it’s the right thing’. The more I’m around the team and hear their pitch, the more convinced I get.”

So was Ricciardo actively seeking a move away?

“It’s not that I was craving something else, I was just keeping open-minded,” admits Ricciardo. “It’s a tough one because I’ve felt for a lot of years that we have a great chassis and we’ll win a few [Grands Prix] but we’ve not quite got there [to the front] yet. But if I leave and Honda come good, even though I know they still have a lot of work to do, there’s a fear that if the team starts winning after I’ve gone then I’ll be like ‘Oh wow, what have I done?’ I’ve done so much with this team. That would be pretty painful.” 

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