Spielberg (Austria) (AFP) – In demand Daniel Ricciardo is close to signing a new two-year contract with Red Bull and commit to continuing his partnership with Max Verstappen in a new Honda-powered era for the team.
Australian Ricciardo, winner of seven Grands Prix with Red Bull, told reporters this week that he expected to confirm a new deal “soon”.
Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko said he felt that it was “getting closer.”
Ricciardo said: “It’s not over yet, but it will come… Soon. The time is not far away.”
Ricciardo, 28, is out of contract at the end of this year and has been reviewing his options including Ferrari and Mercedes.
Those options appear to be unlikely, however, as Ferrari are strongly linked with a possible move to sign Monegasque Charles Leclerc as a replacement for Finn Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes are expected to retain an unchanged line-up for 2019.
Marko said the new contract with Ricciardo was dependent only on “details” and added that he felt the driver was not in a strong bargaining position in the current market.
With Ferrari and Mercedes ranked as unlikely destinations, the Australian’s best alternatives appeared to be McLaren or Renault, but both cannot match Red Bull in terms of competitive performance.
“Mercedes and Ferrari both have a number one driver who is clearly declared,” said Marko. “I know Ricciardo did not receive an offer from Ferrari and Renault, as far as I know, will stay with their current drivers.
“Above all, Renault I don’t think are in the budget region that Ricciardo has in mind. He has no sporting alternative to us, even if he probably imagined it differently.
“We want him, to continue, but not at any price.”