Red Bull's Ricciardo denies rumours of Ferrari switch

BAKU (Azerbaijan) • Daniel Ricciardo yesterday dismissed media speculation of a pre-agreement with Ferrari that could see him switch from Red Bull to the Italian Formula One team next season.

The Australian has so far only talked about his future with Red Bull, he told reporters in Baku ahead of Sunday's Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

"I'm aware of other reports, but there hasn't been anything else, so they're not true. At least until now," said the 28-year-old, winner in Shanghai two weeks ago and at last year's chaotic Baku race.

A thrilling race eventuated, with Ricciardo winning after Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel famously succumbed to "road rage" and clashed with Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes.

When asked specifically about media reports saying he had a pre-agreement with Ferrari for an exclusive negotiating period, he added: "That's not true."

Britain's Motorsport magazine recently reported that Ferrari had an option allowing it exclusive negotiations with Ricciardo up to a defined date, believed to be the end of June.

He is out of contract at the end of the season, as is Finland's Kimi Raikkonen, who currently partners four-time world champion Vettel - Ricciardo's previous team-mate at Red Bull - at the Scuderia.

Ricciardo has also been linked to Mercedes as a possible team-mate for Britain's four-time world champion Hamilton.

The 33-year-old defending world champion is still chasing his first win of a campaign that is well on the way to becoming a classic.

Nine points adrift of championship leader Vettel, he complained in China two weekends ago of being in "no-man's land" and the ultra-long Baku straight could again favour Ferrari, with Vettel aiming to make up for the disappointment of finishing eighth in China after winning the first two races in Australia and Bahrain.

Mercedes, without a win in three races for the first time since the V6 turbo hybrid era started in 2014, will need to get their tyres working properly and can take nothing for granted.

"We know that we have a massive challenge on our hands," said team boss Toto Wolff. "Last year, we were in a tough fight with Ferrari. However, it was nothing compared to the intensity of this year's battle."

"Last year's race threw up a podium that nobody could have predicted and, as is the way with street courses, we can once again expect the unexpected," the Austrian added.

REUTERS

F1 AZERBAIJAN GP
Practice 1 & 2
Singtel TV Ch114 & StarHub Ch208, 4.55pm & 8.55pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2018, with the headline 'Red Bull's Ricciardo denies rumours of Ferrari switch'. Print Edition | Subscribe