Ricciardo ready to sign Red Bull deal “early next week”
Daniel Ricciardo says he hopes to finalise his new Formula 1 contract with Red Bull Racing as early as next week, before the summer break.
The Australian’s negotiations with Red Bull have dragged on for some months, but with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas now confirmed at Mercedes for 2019 his most likely alternative has gone.
Christian Horner said in Hockenheim that he hopes to have the situation resolved soon, and Ricciardo agrees with his boss.
“It's getting more realistic, I’d say,” he said when asked by Motorsport.com whether it was viable to have his future confirmed by the summer break.
“I think obviously the picture with everyone else is starting to be pretty clear, so obviously I’ll focus on [this race] and then I guess probably early next week I'll try and get everything done.”
Asked if it was his choice to trigger the signing of a contract he said: “The majority, I would say... The majority.”
With Mercedes now having confirmed both its drivers, the Ricciardo deal is an important one for the driver market.
Carlos Sainz is committed to Red Bull until September 30, but as soon as Ricciardo signs and there is no race seat at Red Bull, it's believed that the Spaniard becomes a free agent.
His availability could in turn lead to a number of moves quickly falling into place.
That has led to suggestions that Red Bull is stalling on making a Ricciardo announcement, because it has nothing to gain by setting that process in motion and helping rivals such as Renault to sort out their line-ups.
Ricciardo implied that as long as he knows that his deal had been agreed and is ready to be signed, he will be satisfied.
“I’d love to go on break with everything signed and done, but even if I don’t sign it next week for example, as long as I know during the break that I know what I want to do, then I'm happy enough," he said.
"If we put pen to paper, then... We’ll see, we can take some time.”
Asked if the potential availability of a seat at Mercedes in 2020 had any impact on the length of his deal, with Bottas confirmed only for next year, Ricciardo was non-committal.
“Maybe," he replied. "But really not looking at Bottas, just in general, there’s obviously going to be some changes, I guess within the team as well, so... We’ll see.
"I honestly haven’t agreed to anything yet. I won’t say any more, I’ll shut up!”
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