Unexpected shift in Ricciardo situation
DANIEL Ricciardo said repeatedly he wanted to get a new deal done before the F1 summer break but he wasn't able to put pen to paper before the halfway mark of the season.
Instead, he'll have some extra time to think during his month away from the track but is adamant he'll make a decision about his future before he gets on the grid at the Belgian Grand Prix in late August.
The Aussie driver is off contract with Red Bull at the end of 2018 but has strongly suggested he will re-sign with the energy drink team, previously indicating he'd like to ink a two-year deal.
Initially there was speculation Mercedes and Ferrari were interested in the 29-year-old but the Silver Arrows recently gave Valtteri Bottas a new deal and the Scuderia reportedly went cold on Ricciardo because he wasn't seen as an ideal fit to complement title challenger Sebastian Vettel.
Ricciardo has made no secret he wants to win a world championship and he wants to win it now - while he's in the prime of his career - and a decision on where he'll be next year will "definitely" be made by the time the drivers get back from their break.
"Did it look simple? I was just making it up so you guys would stop asking me," Ricciardo told reporters when quizzed about his contract situation at mid-season testing in Budapest.
"It'll definitely be done by Spa so whether it gets announced over the break or at Spa (I'm not sure) but it's just a little bit of fine-tuning here and there.
"You'll hear something soon, I'm sure."
Red Bull has been unable to seriously challenge Mercedes and Ferrari since Vettel won a world title with the English-based outfit in 2013 and at times Ricciardo has voiced his frustration at being unable to compete with the top teams.
Part of that frustration has been to do with an unreliable engine that too often has let Red Bull down. Ricciardo's teammate Max Verstappen blasted power unit provider Renault after an engine failure forced him to retire at the weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix.
"Mate, really? Can I not just keep going? I don't care if this f***ing engine blows up," Verstappen said over the radio. "What a f***ing joke, all the f***ing time. Honestly. Argh."
Ricciardo had a better time of it, powering his way to fourth after starting 12th on the grid, but engine dramas may continue giving the team a headache in the second half of the season.
Earlier this year Red Bull announced it was splitting with Renault and partnering with new power unit supplier Honda for 2019, and that switch can't come soon enough according to former F1 driver turned Sky Sports pundit Martin Brundle.
"Sadly, Verstappen's motor would expire and he would be consigned to the grass swearing like … well like anybody else would who has dedicated their exceptional talent and life to winning races but keeps being denied through no fault of their own," Brundle wrote.
"The inevitable PR machine publicly unravelled his angst on Monday but we all got the real message. It's going to be a long second half of the year between Renault and Red Bull until they get their Hondas."
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