Monday, 27 May, 2019

McLaren open to Ricciardo, Red Bull confident he will stay

Verstappen gives two thumbs up to Red Bull-Honda deal Max Verstappen pleased with 'exciting' Red Bull-Honda marriage
Cary Erickson | 25 June, 2018, 23:49

Max Verstappen has applauded Red Bull's decision to swap to Honda engines, adamant he is not anxious about all the problems Honda have suffered in the past few years.

After months of deliberations, Red Bull announced this week that it would end its 12-year Renault relationship to join sister team Toro Rosso in using Hondas from next year. Depending on which team he signs with in the 2019 season, he may not end up driving a Honda-powered vehicle for the team.

McLaren openly expressed an interest in Australian Daniel Ricciardo on Friday, but Red Bull boss Christian Horner was confident the Australian Formula One driver would be staying with his team.

The downside for Red Bull is that, while Honda have made big progress, they are not yet in the same league as the frontrunning engines.

But perhaps Christian Horner put it best a yesterday's press conference, where, sitting alongside Cyril Abiteboul and Eric Boullier, when asked about Ricciardo, the Briton said: "Let's not forget that he has been in a vehicle that in the last couple of grands prix has been lapping the cars to our left".

"Obviously the cars are performing extremely well, so there's no shortage of demand from drivers that want to be in the auto for next year but our priority is to retain the same driver line-up for the next couple of years". That's now done, Daniel understands the engineering rationale behind that.

"Let's not forget he's been in a vehicle that the last couple of grands prix (Monaco and Canada) has been lapping the cars to our left".

Brian Stuard Round 1 Recap at 2018 Travelers Championship
Defending champion Jordan Spieth , tied with Johnson after an opening 63, had a 73 to drop into a tie for 25th at four-under. Justin Thomas, front, couldn't get started in the first round of the Travelers Championship Thursday in Hartford.

Ricciardo, who has won two of seven F1 races this year, was quick in practice on Friday, but he was pipped to the fastest time by reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton.

"I would be surprised if he was to leave, because it's a good fit between him and Red Bull, but it is Formula 1", he added later. I am really extremely excited by the performance improvement to come, in particular with Spec C which we will introduce later this season.

He also expects Red Bull to ramp up discussions about a new contract now that they have sorted their engine supplier.

"The only reason for going further is if we have an innate belief that we can help Red Bull and we can win", he said. "Just normal, gentle discussions".

"We believe that working with both Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing will allow us to get closer to our goal of winning races and championships, building two strong partnerships".

As a result, the driver lineup that will be used by Red Bull Racing to try to make Renault fail to make them regret their decision to switch from Renault engines to Honda engines is not yet known.