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The Red Bull speedy, Daniel Ricciardo could be headed to Mercedes for 2019 Formula One. It is believed one of the reasons Red Bull was so keen to extend Max Verstappen’s deal through 2020 is that Ricciardo is – in Helmut Marko’s words – “on the market” for a new team after his current contract expires late next year.

Rumours Ricciardo is on the move have ramped up ever since Red Bull boss Christian Horner said – ‘He (Max) is in the best place in the sport to build a team around him.’

Ricciardo said in Austin: “If I was to negotiate with another team, one of the first issues would be insisting on identical conditions.

“If someone said ‘We’ll sign you but you’d have to support your teammate’, I wouldn’t sign.”

Horner, however, has warned Ricciardo that if he does go to Mercedes or Ferrari, he would in effect be the ‘number 2’ behind Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel respectively.

But Ricciardo said he is not afraid of Hamilton.

“Obviously I’ve had the chance with Sebastian Vettel,” he said, “and I’ve had it with Max. While Lewis is in his prime I would like to challenge and see.”

Recently Lewis Hamilton expressed that, no issues teaming up with Ricciardo at Mercedes, should the opportunity ever arise.

“Daniel is a fantastic driver, it would be a privilege to race against him,” Hamilton told Motorpsort.com, for his response to Ricciardo’s comments.

“He’s a great character, he always bring a lot of positivity within his team. I think it’s interesting, I think it’s cool, I take the compliment that people say they [want to race against me].

“I don’t truly necessarily believe that people want to be up alongside me because that is not always necessarily the best thing for an individual. But in some cases, it could be a really good thing because it can help you grow.

“You look at Daniel, he’s got a great driver in his teammate [Max Verstappen] and to be honest, he has got to really work to outperform him first.

“You’ve always got to beat the person you’re with first before you can look at competing against someone else and beating them. That’s just my personal opinion”

Hamilton also added that, he “doesn’t mind” who is in the other car but strained the key is to maintain an air of positivity in the team.

“I already feel like I’ve raced against the best here, which in my personal opinion is Fernando [Alonso],” he said.

“We have a great driver in Valtteri, who I’m enjoying racing with. There is a lot of great drivers here who I would be happy to race against.

“I don’t mind who I race against, anyone in the world, as long as there is some how you’re able to maintain positivity in the team and hopefully you’re still fighting another team as well.

“I think that harmony is incredibly important for everyone to be enjoying what they do.”

Red Bull prepared to ‘build a team’ around Verstappen, the Australian has yet to define his plans beyond 2018.

‘We’ve spoken with Daniel, It’s very clear we want to do exactly the same with him. There was a window of discussion that took place with Max and obviously our objective is to retain the two drivers and hopefully we will be able to achieve that until 2020.’ Horner told Sky Sports.

Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle is one of many who believe that Ricciardo’s future has already been decided and it’s not with Red Bull.

‘It tells me Ricciardo will be in a Mercedes in 2019,’ he said.

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