Daniel Ricciardo is a much sought after man in the F1 paddock, and as conjecture over his future with the Red Bull Racing team began to rise, the 26-year-old has firmly put a stop to tongues wagging, by pledging his allegiance to the Milton Keynes based squad until the end of 2018.
There had been speculation over whether the Australian would remain at his current team, with plenty of interest in the driver known as the “honey badger” coming from all avenues in the last few months, with many strongly linking him with a move to the Scuderia Ferrari squad as a possible replacement for Kimi Raikkonen, whose contract with the Maranello based squad is up at the end of this season.
In a bid to show competitors that Ricciardo’s services are not up for negotiation however, Red Bull Bosses Christian Horner and Helmut Marko, activated a performance-related clause within the Australian’s contract and confirmed the 26-year-old will remain with the team for at least another two years, having signed a five year agreement when he joined Red Bull as fellow countryman Mark Webber’s replacement, back in 2014.
Speaking to motorsport.com recently the Australian advised that he had always seen Red Bull in his future plans.
“It has always been pretty discrete, I guess. Helmut made a few comments – and it is good, it means he likes me. It is hard to tell some days!
“To be honest, the team is very happy with the line-up they have at the moment with myself and Max. I would say it is pretty stable.”
Ricciardo’s deal means the 2017 Red Bull line-up is now confirmed, with the Milton Keynes based squad keeping their two existing drivers, of Ricciardo and highly acclaimed youngster Max Verstappen, onboard for the foreseeable future. It is a line-up that should on paper, become a title-winning team in the very near future.
The confirmation does spell bad news for one member of the F1 paddock however, in the form of Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr. The Spaniard is also very much a part of the Red Bull structure, but Ricciardo’s new deal leaves the 21-year-old somewhat out in the cold in terms of where he can now go from here.
With “no room at the inn” seemingly transpiring with the parent squad, the 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 champion must now consider whether he remains loyal to the Red Bull outfit, after being overlooked by them on so many occasions, or move on to pastures new (if his contract permits), and a chance of a better seat somewhere else….perhaps Ferrari, as they certainly appear to be looking!