A number of drivers are out of contract after the 2018 season. Top drivers including Daniel Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton not yet under contract for 2019. Ricciardo is currently a target for Ferrari and Mercedes. But Christian Horner is keen to retain the Aussie until the 2020 F1 season. Horner said: “He’s technically out of contract at the end of 2018 because he will have completed a five-year contract. But what is absolutely clear is that it’s our intention to retain both of our drivers, I would say until 2020.”
However, Red Bull do have a backup plan in case Ricciardo decides to leave. Renault’s new signing, Carlos Sainz Jr will race from USA onwards. But sources say that Red Bull have loaned him to the French manufacturer. In other words, Red Bull have the option of recalling the Spaniard to the senior team. Horner said “Carlos, I wanted to keep under contract as an option should one of the [existing] drivers past next year not be with us. But the absolute intention is we want Ricciardo and Verstappen in Red Bull Racing cars going forward. They both enjoy being in the team. I think the difference with Daniel is for the first time in his career at Red Bull he’s got an end in sight to his contract.”
Earlier, Red Bull advisor, Dr. Helmut Marko said that Ricciardo was on the 2020 F1 driver market. Horner clarified the comment saying that though the Australian was on the market. But it didn’t mean that the team were going to lose him. “Helmut likes to state the obvious, and it’s obvious he’s on the open market But it doesn’t mean we don’t want him.”
Horner is also confident that the Austrian marquee will be able to hang on to Max Verstappen for a while longer. Initially, there had been murmurings that the Dutchman was unhappy with all the reliability issues that he had been facing. So there were rumours that Max could leave to look for greener pastures. But now it seems that Red Bull have got to the bottom of the issues.