Daniel Ricciardo’s future hangs on the decision of a key rival.
Daniel Ricciardo’s future hangs on the decision of a key rival.

Red Bull confident of keeping Ricciardo

DANIEL Ricciardo looks set to stay with Red Bull next season unless Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton suddenly announces his retirement in the next few days, team boss Christian Horner has said.

The race-winning Australian, who turned 29 last Sunday, is out of contract at the end of the year and has been mulling his options for months.

He has had Mercedes and Ferrari in his sights but, despite potential vacancies at both teams, neither has seemed interested.

"We've now got to the point where there is a desire from both sides to continue the relationship," Horner told reporters at the Red Bull factory ahead of this weekend's British Grand Prix.

"So it's just a matter of now really going through the detail and coming to a conclusion, which will certainly be done prior to the summer (August) break."

With Mercedes winning the last four drivers' and constructors' championships, and trading the lead with Ferrari this year, Horner recognised the champions could have lured Ricciardo away.

Daniel Ricciardo gets into the zone
Daniel Ricciardo gets into the zone

 "I think that had Mercedes put a serious offer on the table, or an offer, he would have been potentially interested,"  the Briton said.

"He's impatient to try and challenge for a world title so I think he would have had his head turned in the event of a Mercedes or a Ferrari offer, but I think those two teams look pretty set where they are."

Prior to the Austrian Grand Prix it was reported the gun Aussie was on the verge of re-signing with Red Bull, but he quickly clarified his position.

"I still don't have an answer - not just for you but in my own mind as well," Ricciardo said.

"There are still ongoing discussions."

Ricciardo says contesting for world titles is his overriding priority for 2019 and beyond - but also wants his achievements to date to be recognised in his next deal.

"I said it from the start, the priority is to try and get a car that can win a world title because I really believe I can. So that's the first thing in my mind," he said.

"If there was absolutely no possibility then you look into other things, but I think as a driver I think I've done enough now … even Lewis (Hamilton) touched on it, and I didn't even need to really say it, your value as a driver is not 'X' amount of money it's just what you feel your value is and what you bring to the sport.

Red Bull look set to keep the band together for next season.
Red Bull look set to keep the band together for next season.

"I feel I hold a certain value so I just want to at least match that with my expectations and what also people value me as."

Mercedes is yet to confirm either of their drivers for 2019, but Hamilton is expected to agree to a lucrative new deal imminently and Finland's Valtteri Bottas is also expected to stay.

Ferrari has confirmed the spot of Ricciardo's former teammate Sebastian Vettel, a four-time world champion who is leading Hamilton by a single point ahead of Silverstone, and Monegasque rookie Charles Leclerc is favourite to replace Kimi Raikkonen.

Horner said Ricciardo suited Red Bull's brand image and was a popular member of a team set to trade Renault engines for Honda power next year.

Asked whether Ricciardo would get equal money to 20-year-old Dutch hotshot Max Verstappen, the winner in Austria last weekend, Horner said only that each had their own value.

"Obviously, one of the things he was waiting to understand was where we were going with engines as well. He's seen and understood the decision-making behind where we've gone," Horner said.

"Hopefully, the rest of it becomes a formality, unless Lewis announces his retirement at the British Grand Prix this weekend."

- with AAP



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