Christian Horner has stated his intentions to keep Daniel Ricciardo at Aston Martin Red Bull Racing beyond 2018.
The Australian is entering the final year of the five-year contract he signed after making the step up to Red Bull from Toro Rosso for the 2014 season, and has previously said that he is happy with delaying contract renewal talks in order to see the competitiveness of the new RB14.
Ricciardo has become frustrated with the inconsistency shown by Red Bull in the V6 turbo hybrid era and is rumoured to be looking at other avenues in order to claim a first drivers’ title.
However, Horner is not worried by the 28-year-old’s hesitance to commit and is hopeful that he can keep both Ricciardo and his team-mate Max Verstappen for the foreseeable future.
“Daniel is coming to the end of a five-year contract with us,” Horner said, speaking to CNN Sport.
“Our intention is very much to keep him with us for the future. During the course of the summer, I’m sure we’ll sit down and discuss things; the plan is to keep the driver line-up the same as it is.
“If that’s not the case, we have got some great options available to us.”
Speaking about those options, Ricciardo referred to Carlos Sainz Jr. – currently loaned to the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team from the Red Bull driver programme until the end of the 2018 season. If Ricciardo does decide to part ways, Sainz Jr. is the man most likely for promotion.
“We have the junior programme that we’ve invested heavily in,” Horner added.
“We still have Carlos Sainz Jr. under contract to us who is on loan to Renault, so we still have a few options open.”
Horner would be “surprised” to see Hamilton abandon Mercedes
When asked about the potential availability of Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport‘s star man Lewis Hamilton, Horner remained coy on the chances of wrestling him away from the world champions, but admitted that it would be unlikely to see him leave Mercedes at this point in time.
The Brit is expected to renew his deal with the German marque soon, but the previous expectations of a deal being agreed before the season-opening Australian Grand Prix next week are shrinking exponentially.
“Lewis too is out of contract this year,” mused Horner.
“It’s difficult to see him leaving Mercedes, but I guess you can never say never.
“I can’t envisage that at this point in time. Our priority is to retain our two drivers that we have, so I’d be very surprised if he was to leave.
“But, it won’t be a cheap deal for Mercedes this time!”