Speaking to the BBC ahead of the Grand Prix at Silverstone this weekend, the Australian driver said that although the attention was “flattering” and he was happy to be noticed by bosses at Ferrari, he was tied to Red Bull, his team of the second year running, through to 2018.
Ricciardo’s contract does not expire for another 3 years, so if Ferrari are to seriously consider a transfer for Ricciardo they will have to pay Red Bull Racing to release him, as it had earlier been reported they were considering doing with another contender for the post, Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas of Williams.
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen has been on shaky ground, with several lackluster performances this year and an increasingly cooling attitude towards the team.
At a press conference at Silverstone, Ricciardo told the BBC that he had been ‘struggling’ with Red Bull’s flagging form lately, and that it had “tested his personality”. Although the 26-year-old Ricciardo’s contract runs through to 2018, it is quite possible there may be issues with the team long before this. The Austrian-owned team have had constant issues with their engines.
Both Ricciardo and teammate Kvyat took penalties at the Austrian Grand Prix for exceeding their permitted number of ICEs or Internal Combustion Engines. They are not the only ones with trouble, however. Both drivers at Scuderia Toro Rosso, Red Bull Racing’s sister concern, have also had several engine failures and electrical issues this year. Carlos Sainz Jr and his 17-year-old teammate Max Verstappen have faced repeated issues, and these have left Red Bull bosses extremely unhappy.
Company chief Dietrich Mateschitz, Motorsport boss Helmut Marko and team principal Christian Horner have all rubbished rumours that the team have a deal in the pipeline with German automakers Audi, although Mateschitz has in no uncertain terms said the partnership with Renault is a difficult one and he is unsure if he wants to continue at all. The Austrian company boss has been the most vocal of all, while Horner has remained more neutral than the rest, reiterating that the contract with Red Bull ran through to the end of the 2016 season, so speculating in the interim was pointless.
Ricciardo and the team were “positive” towards the 2016 season, and believe that with an "improved engine from Renault”, they will have the "competitive" performances they look to put forward in the future.
For now, it seems likely Ricciardo will stay put at Red Bull. More details will be shared when they are available.