The rumours surrounding Daniel Ricciardo’s future in Formula 1 have been circling around the paddock ever since it was announced earlier in the year that McLaren would be replacing the 33-year-old with Oscar Piastri for next season.
First it was rumoured that the Australian would drop further down the grid to race for Haas or Williams, then when it became apparent Ricciardo was unwilling to do this, it became a straight shootout between Mercedes and Red Bull for his signature as a reserve driver.
It was Ricciardo’s former team that eventually secured the services of the eight-time race winner, and with Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez’s relationship seemingly on the rocks, suggestions have been made that Ricciardo could replace the Mexican at the end of next season.
Team principal Christian Horner has been quick to rubbish these claims however, reminding the media that Perez is under contract for the next two seasons, with the team having no intention to cut his time with them short.
“Daniel’s contract is very specific for a specific reason,” said Horner.
“We have a contract with Checo for the next two years and he has made a good step this year.
“He felt more comfortable in the team at the beginning of the year after joining in that first year during a COVID period.”
Horner has suggested that many teams would struggle to find a stronger driver pairing that Verstappen and Perez, leading Red Bull to plan for a future featuring Perez rather than Ricciardo.
“What the partnership of Max and Checo had produced has been phenomenal for us,” he claimed.
“The five one-two finishes, the constructors’ championship that we hadn’t won for eight years is a phenomenal achievement and obviously [given] the combination of both drivers and their points contributions, they do have a good relationship.
“They’ve raced well for the team, and we’ve got no reason to see that being any different tomorrow or for the duration of their contractual commitment to the team thereafter.”
Horner’s statements will come as a blow for Ricciardo who would have quietly enjoyed seeing the breakdown in relationship at Red Bull, seeing a door potential open for him that originally looked locked.
With both Ferrari and Mercedes’ drivers tied down to multi-year contracts, it is becoming more and more difficult by the day to see which top team Ricciardo plans to join in 2024, with the Australian always stating that there is a plan in place for his return to the grid.