Red Bull has put the lid on its F1 driver lineup for 2017, only leaving the future of Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat slightly ajar.
It follows the latest rumours about Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz, and suggestions either of them might be in the running to replace Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari.
“We read the rumours too but our drivers aren’t available,” said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner. “If guess if you’re Ferrari you have got a dilemma.”
Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne this week told La Gazzetta dello Sport that Finn Raikkonen needs to push hard to retain his seat for 2017.
“There will come a day when even I will leave,” he warned.
But at a media event at the Red Bull company’s Austrian base, Dr Helmut Marko announced that both Australian Ricciardo and Toro Rosso’s Sainz have definitely been contractually retained by the energy drink brand.
As for Ferrari, he said: “Neither Ricciardo nor Sainz were contacted directly by Ferrari.”
Red Bull is only leaving Russian Kvyat’s future slightly unclear, although Marko said: “He has recovered and is showing improving form.”
GP2 star Pierre Gasly has been linked with Kvyat’s seat for 2017, but Horner insisted: “There isn’t an obvious (alternative) candidate knocking on the door at the moment.”
So what about that potentially-vacant Ferrari seat? Marko thinks Sergio Perez is obviously gunning for it.
“Since he knows that a Ferrari seat is potentially vacant, he is on the gas like never before,” he said.
But Force India supremo Vijay Mallya has told The Times this week that Mexican Perez is under contract for 2017.
“Between (Valtteri) Bottas and (Romain) Grosjean, I would choose Bottas,” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, who is involved in Bottas’ management, told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera when asked about the Ferrari vacancy.