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Daniel Ricciardo’s options for 2019 F1

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Daniel Ricciardo’s future in Formula 1 has been an intriguing topic for the last few weeks. Given his talent as that of a potential World Champion, and with no contract signed yet for next year, the Australian’s next move might be a critical one in his career, and in the sport.

Red Bull Racing signing up with Honda for their engine deal this week, it will be critical to see where the Australian goes. In the past, he has often made statements about his future drive and stated his priorities have always been to win or chase titles, rather than the financial gains offered in the opportunity.

With his career often being associated with Mercedes or Ferrari, the current situation seems like he might be forced to sign a deal with Red Bull Racing, with not many options left. Given his priorities, the opportunities are very few unless Valtteri Bottas or Kimi Raikkonen were to leave their teams.

Red Bull Racing was waiting to sort their engine deal out and then sort Ricciardo’s contract, however speaking at the French Grand Prix weekend, the Australian said “For sure, they want to start to move soon now. I haven’t been pushed yet but I would say there’ll be a bit of movement probably from next week. Whether thats something gets put down on paper, but for sure the discussions will start to ramp up now, in the next seven days, so obviously there Austria next week and there’s Silverstone after that, so there’ll be two home Grands Prix. So we’ll see then what happens”.

Whether there is any deadline to make his decision he replied “Now that the team has got an engine deal sorted, ideally for them they’ll want something sooner rather than later, probably in the next two weeks would be ideal for them. For me personally, I think, one thing it would be nice to at least (i know it a while away), but to go on a summer break knowing what I’m doing, so that I can enjoy the summer break.”

“If I am on the phone for two weeks of the August break, still trying to figure out my future, it won’t be that good. It might be good for me to switch off as well (to know earlier). From my personal point of view, by the summer would be nice. It could happen sooner but by then I would like to know”, he said in anticipation of a clearer picture by August.

A team apart from Mercedes or Ferrari being associated with Ricciardo, a team quoted by the German media to have shown interest in the 29-year-old driver, is said to be McLaren. The Woking outfit is actively looking out for an experienced replacement for Fernando Alonso, as there is no clear decision from the Spaniard if he would want to continue in Formula 1, and if he doesn’t they need to line up potential options.

Commenting over the McLaren link-up the Australian said “I did see it about an hour ago. As far as comments on it, I haven’t been presented anything which says that. I’ll be honest, everyone is talking about Mercedes and Ferrari as potential places for me to go, but I’m aware there is going to be interest from other teams and McLaren is probably one of them. Probably it depends on what Fernando [Alonso] does, if he stays or if he goes. If he does go, they probably want a more experienced driver to come in. We’ll see. There are a lot of things to weigh up. Nothing really to comment on that.”

On whether Renault or McLaren were an appealing option, he said “There is part of it is which is. I’m not going to say ‘no it doesn’t interest me at all’. Probably more because of what Lewis was able to do with Mercedes and probably those two teams, they are not quiet in that position yet. But could they be, maybe. The thought of that maybe it has some appeal. I wouldn’t say it is probably at the top of my list right now, but I wouldn’t dismiss it also”.

“Even if Im still with Red Bull, I am also careful, just from my personal point of view, not to burn any bridges, because you never know where the sport will take you, and if I didn’t move on from Red Bull, I never want to criticise them. And as I said the fact is I have had it pretty good there, and it has really been fun.”

“Obviously McLaren and Renault aren’t there today, but maybe they will be in a year or three years time. You never really know. I mean Lewis pulled the trigger pretty well, whether he fluked it. He says that he really knew it was going to happen, but I don’t know, whether he fluked it or not? he has done pretty well for himself with that move. Whether it is just a fantasy for everyone else I don’t know. At least theres a little bit of proof that something like that could potentially happen again.”

Asked about whether he would sign a contract for more than two years he replied “I would be a little bit hesitant to go longer, with the rule changes and that coming. So yeah I would keep it on the shorter side.”

On whether the engine deal will affect his decision or whether he knew it would factor in, he said “Well that was one thing I was aware of that could happen I guess… So it was not like a complete shock or surprise to me. I was aware that was a possibility. It was something in a way I was trying to prepare for or calculate in my mind. Now its obviously official, and Im just going to try and understand a little more about it, now that its definite happening and just to try and keep putting the pieces together if it is a good move. Im sure certainly it has a lot of pros with it and yeah so Im trying to add it all up, really in my mind.”

As far his talks with Mercedes or Ferrari are concerned, he was coy about it and said “Im not, no” and on being asked if his manager was he replied joking “Not really . I don t know (laughs) people talk, people have coffees and stuff and Red Bulls, so I dont know. I’ll leave that open ended.”

With Hamilton’s Mercedes contract up for renewal and Vettel due to sign another multi-year deal upto 2020 with Ferrari, there are not too many options where the Australian would claim his limelight. The four-time British World Champion even reiterated in a press conference in Monaco saying “ Red Bull is the best place for him right now”. However, both the four-time World Champions are known to feel threatened by him as their team-mate. Sebastian Vettel makes it clear every time that he has a good rapport with Raikkonen and would prefer that camaraderie next year too.

With not many options that match up to his value in Formula 1, unless he considers a move to Renault or McLaren, a renewal of contract with Red Bull Racing team might be his only chance. The Milton Keynes outfit has signed an engine deal with Honda till 2020, it is being speculated, that they might consider becoming a full works team by 2021, maybe with Aston Martin or Porsche making a complete takeover. With speculation rife over the Australian’s career, it will be interesting to see the decision he takes, and its domino effect on the driver market.

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