Let’s face it, Red Bull Racing make their cars fast and have a really smart pit-wall, but in this power unit era of the sport, they will never be able to challenge the works teams of Ferrari and Mercedes unless they get one of Ferrari or Mercedes’ engines (which is never), build their own engines (which is also never) or hope that Honda finally comes good (again, this isn’t even a 50:50 yet). Basically, Ricciardo knows what Red Bull Racing can give him next season and while it isn’t a bad package necessarily, it isn’t the best one – one that can help him challenge for a Formula 1 title in the near future.
2021 is too far in terms of time and age (for Ricciardo) and expecting different results from Red Bull Racing-Renault or Red Bull Racing-Honda by then would mean expecting a miracle. All things in mind, Ricciardo should chase a faster package and that is currently available only with a Ferrari and Mercedes.
As for Red Bull Racing, they know that IF they don’t sort out their power unit issues, they may risk losing Max Verstappen too – well before their contract runs out. But that’s how the current rules are structured, Red Bull Racing might have no way to solve their problem but to wait till 2021 (expected change in regulations) OR sell off their team to a manufacturer interested in entering Formula 1 – Aston Martin? Let’s remember, even though they might not be winning races regularly and fighting for the championship, they are paid a decent amount to race in Formula 1.
Red Bull Racing – Honda may have some hope for 2019, but there’s good chance that Red Bull might run out of time to use the Honda card to retain Ricciardo.
Daniel Ricciardo – Too Expensive?
The Aussie has reportedly asked for a 36 million dollar (or was it pound?) contract from Ferrari and while there’s no formula to ascertain a driver value, Ricciardo knows that among the current top drivers, he is the ONLY one who has proven himself as a consistent performer, awesome overtaker and race winner. Yes, there’s Fernando Alonso too, but we know how he is almost never going to go back to Ferrari or secure a drive at Mercedes. Max Verstappen is locked in with Red Bull Racing till 2020, whereas Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and others are consistent mid-field runners, but not had the chance to prove themselves at the front.
In lieu of this, Ricciardo has priced himself well. He knows that Ferrari and Mercedes would be planning their succession after their current #1 drivers retire or leave. Additionally, in the case of Ferrari, we saw in the past how Kimi Raikkonen was drafted alongside Fernando Alonso to pressurise the Spaniard into delivering a title. In Vettel’s case, maybe Ferrari are trying the same strategy – if Vettel can win, great, if not, Ricciardo may just well be able to do so too.
Mercedes Losing Verstappen & Ricciardo?
Mercedes were seemingly in the front-running for signing Ricciardo in place of Valtteri Bottas. However, did Ricciardo’s expensive tag drive the German manufacturer away? Let’s remember, they already have a very expensive driver in Lewis Hamilton (who is yet to re-sign though). There’s good chance that the Hamilton-Ricciardo partnership could cost Mercedes in the region of $80 million dollars!
First, Mercedes lost Max Verstappen to Red Bull Racing (this is before his Formula 1 days) and now they might just end up losing Daniel Ricciardo to Ferrari. Yes, Bottas has done well in the first three races to merit an extension, but when a talent such as Ricciardo is available, Bottas’ inability to overtake a struggling Vettel in Bahrain would be the sort of performance that would be compared to what-if Ricciardo was in the same position?
The brand ‘Daniel Ricciardo’ would also appeal to the marketing teams given his ‘happy and social’ character. This is despite Ricciardo’s barefoot ways of enjoying his podium celebrations!
Finally, given Ferrari’s mistreatment of Kimi Raikkonen, should Daniel Ricciardo be wary of signing for them as Vettel’s team-mate? Frankly, I doubt whether Vettel has as much of a say as the previous Ferrari drivers did in choosing their team-mates, although it is publicly known and acknowledged that Ferrari do use their #2 driver to aid their #1. In Ricciardo’s case, I wonder what sort of guarantee(s) would be exchanged – would it be that Ferrari support the driver who is the fastest? Let’s see.
You are welcome to hear our latest episode – FIA Should Scrutinise Ferrari For Ruining Kimi Raikkonen’s Races’