All bets are off when it comes to the future of Daniel Ricciardo with word slipping out about the Australian’s long-term future with Red Bull.
The veteran driver will line up alongside Yuki Tsunoda in the newly branded Visa Cash App RB (formerly AlphaTauri) team in 2024 — but his future beyond remains up in the air.
The situation has now taken a turn with Red Bull kingmaker Helmut Marko reportedly letting slip Ricciardo has a long term agreement with the all-conquering Red Bull team.
It comes at a time when the Formula 1 world is in a spin over the shock news of Lewis Hamilton’s move to Ferrari in 2025.
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The seven-time world champion’s departure has seen Formula 1’s silly season start early with drivers and teams desperate to lock down their line-ups for 2025 before the music stops in the game of musical chairs.
Ricciardo loomed as one of the potential applicants for the Mercedes seat vacated by Hamilton — but Marko has poured cold water on the link straight away.
According to F1 Insider, Marko has let slip news of Ricciardo’s future, suggesting the 34-year-old may be signed with Red Bull beyond the 2024 season.
Red Bull and AlphaTauri have never made any formal comment about Ricciardo’s contractual situation other than the September announcement that he signed an extension through to the end of 2024 with the junior Red Bull development team.
The situation was further complicated on Saturday when rumours emerged Williams driver Alex Albon, who was previously sacked by Red Bull, was also in discussions with Red Bull for 2025.
F1 Insider reports Marko has told the publication: “Ricciardo still has a long-term contract and is not available (for Mercedes)”.
Ricciardo has made no attempt to hide his ambitions to take Sergio Perez’s seat as Red Bull’s second driver in 2025.
There has previously been speculation Ricciardo has a deal in place that would allow him to make a straight jump from AlphaTauri to Red Bull should the top team decide to rip up the Mexican driver’s contract early this year.
Perez is under increasing pressure to deliver championship points in 2024 after finishing with 285 points last year, less than half of the points (575) Max Verstappen picked up.
Veteran Formula 1 journalist Joe Saward last year suggested Ricciardo is the man that will move to Red Bull if Perez is cut
“The word is that Red Bull recently turned down a $1.2 billion offer for Scuderia AlphaTauri and now intends to use its second team to aim for a different segment of the F1 market,” Saward wrote in an online column.
“Rumours suggest that the team will be renamed Racing Bulls (a name that was recently trademarked by Red Bull).
“The team’s livery that has been used in Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi is likely to be the basis of the 2024 new look.
“And while the driver line-up in 2024 will be Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda, informed sources suggest that there is a provision in Ricciardo’s contract for him to switch into Red Bull Racing after the early races next year if Sergio Perez does not up his game.
“I hear that if that happens Daniel’s salary will triple and Liam Lawson will come in to replace him.”
The 2024 silly season was already expected to be one of the most chaotic ever, and while it still could be, many drivers have locked their futures away in the pre-season.
Charles Leclerc signed a multi-year deal with Ferrari beyond the 2024 season.
Lando Norris signed a multi-year contract extension with McLaren taking him beyond the 2025 season, shutting the door on a move to Red Bull.
His teammate Oscar Piastri is contracted with McLaren until the end of 2026, giving the team stability.
George Russell is signed with Mercedes until the end of 2025, but Hamilton’s departure creates an opening for one of the most sought after seats on the grid.
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