Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes that Daniel Ricciardo would be “fairly bold” to join McLaren or Renault. He finds it odd that that teams that he has been lapping would be interested in him.
With regard to a new Red Bull contract, Ricciardo has not put pen to paper for 2019 yet. He admitted that both McLaren and Renault were options to consider.
As Mercedes and Ferrari seem to be out of question for the Australian, Horner believes re-signing with Red Bull is his best bet.
“The situation with Daniel is there’s an intent on both sides to move forwards,” said Horner.
“The first thing was to close the situation with the engine. That’s now done, Daniel understands the engineering rationale behind that.
“Let’s not forget he’s been in a car that the last couple of grands prix [Monaco and Canada] has been lapping the cars to our left.
“It would be a fairly bold decision to step out of a car he’s won two grands prix in this year and is a championship contender.
“I would be surprised if he was to leave the team because it’s a good fit between himself and Red Bull but it’s Formula 1.”
Boullier and Abiteboul have not denied interest in a move for Ricciardo.
“We love Daniel, I’ve known him many, many years,” said Boullier. “He’s doing a good job with Red Bull.
“As long as a driver of that calibre is on the market you look to see if there’s a discussion possible.
“At this time of the year it’s still too early to speak about that. Just normal, gentle discussions.”
Abiteboul admitted that it was a complicated situation that dates back to last September. This was when McLaren’s split from Honda was triggered by Toro Rosso sending Carlos Sainz to Renault.
Abiteboul thinks that Rd Bull’s decision to field Honda engines in 2019 influenced Ricciardo’s choice. But, if Renault continues to improve then it will naturally be a more attractive prospect.
“We can say it’s unconnected to the engine decision but it’s not,” he said. “Carlos was loaned to us because of all the musical chairs that happened last year.
“I expect there would be collateral consequences [from Red Bull’s Honda move]. I’m pretty sure we will discuss that [with Red Bull] in the next few weeks.
“We need to watch out for any driver development from Red Bull’s side first, and the collateral consequences it may have on us.”