Daniel Ricciardo is the king figure in the transfer chess for Formula One season 2019. Because Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen have already signed their next contracts and Lewis Hamilton is on and about to extend his as well, Ricciardo is something like the natural first choice for the remaining cockpits.
The understanding is that all three top teams would like to contract him. A concrete offer from Red Bull has been on the table since winter. Ferrari is said to be the exclusive negotiator. And from the Red Bull Camp it is said that Mercedes Sports Director Toto Wolff has tried several times to reach the Australian. To make him a change of taste.
But: What does he want with Mercedes or Ferrari? Playing the number-2 role?”, Helmut Marko asks a rather rhetorical question in the interview with’auto motor and sport’. Because rocket queens next to Vettel and Bottas at Mercedes next to Hamilton are clear number two pilots. You can tell. With us, Daniel would have equal opportunities. Same material. No team killers. I think that’s the way he sees it.”
“We want to keep him and Daniel knows it too,”says the Red Bull Motorsport Advisor. He does not mention a specific date by which negotiations must be concluded. But: “As soon as possible”
If Ricciardo wants to stay, he can sign at any time the offer he has been offered for weeks. But the 28-year-old secretly speculates on Ferrari. They say he has to let Red Bull know by the end of June. So that in this case the option can still be drawn on Carlos Sainz in time. Whether you want to bring the Spaniard back or not, Red Bull Renault is supposed to announce by the end of July.
“In the perfect world,” team leader Christian Horner says about the Ricciardo negotiations, “we would have done the matter yesterday. But I realize that certain things have to fit together and that Daniel wants to take some time to feel good about his decision.”
That this phase of uncertainty could have an impact on Ricciardo’s performance, Horner doesn’t believe: “He’s driving as fast as ever.”
A big part of this is probably the decision whether Red Bull stays with Renault or changes to Honda. This decision must also be taken in the coming weeks. Perhaps Ricciardo will make his stay dependent on it.
“Of course he wants to know which engine we’re going to use in the future,” Horner admits. We want the most competitive package for next season and the time after, and that is why we want to take a little more time with this decision.”