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Daniel Ricciardo to be bought by Ferrari?

Several sources at the Prancing Horse suggest the Australian will replace Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari. We report on and analyse these rumours.

Infiniti Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo (R) with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel

The 25-year-old Australian has been with Infiniti Red Bull Racing since the start of the 2014 season. Although he has had a less-than-stellar 2015 season so far, his first year with Red Bull - 2014 - was immensely successful. Ricciardo had 3 race wins in 2014, with a total of 8 podium positions. 

He ended that racing season in third spot in the drivers’ championships. 

Ricciardo has had serious, repeated engine trouble this year, however, just about managing to finish the Grand Prix at Bahrain in 6th, crossing the finish as smoke billowed out of his engine. His team, Infiniti Red Bull Racing, have had continued problems with engine manufacturer Renault, and have been very vocal about these issues. 

Both Ricciardo and his teammate, Daniil Kvyat, took penalties at the recently concluded Austrian Grand Prix for exceeding the number of engines they are allowed. While Formula One drivers are permitted 4 per racing season, both Ricciardo and Kvyat are on their fifth ICEs or Internal Combustion Engines.

Kimi Raikkonen has been instructed by Ferrari bosses that he must show an improvement in performance following a lacklustre year, riddled with slow qualifying times and repeated disagreements with the team, both public and private. There has been repeated talk since earlier this year of the 36-year-old being replaced, and several names were thrown around. Among them were Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, who is currently contracted to his team until 2016.

Rumours at the time suggested Ferrari would pay Williams extra to release Bottas from the contract, but it now appears those may have been false. There was also talk that Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg, who recently won the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, would be Raikkonen’s replacement, but sources at Ferrari suggest that team bosses “did not want another German on the team.”

Although Ricciardo’s contract with Red Bull runs through to 2018, he says he is ‘flattered’ by recognition from bosses at Ferrari. The driver has expressed his frustration at the vehicle he has been given, saying that the fact that the team were not in a position to win bothered him immensely. The team will be unable to win either the drivers’ or constructors’ championships this year with the points deficit they are to make up for. While Ricciardo is on 7th and teammate Kvyat on 8th in the drivers standings, they are at 36 and 19 points respectively – Kvyat has a 150-point deficit from leader Lewis Hamilton. 

Red Bull are 4th in the constructors’ standings at 55 points – more than 250 points behind leaders Mercedes, who look more than likely to take both championships. The team are 130 points ahead of their nearest competitors, Ferrari. 

"It has tested my personality a bit more," Ricciardo said in a BBC interview of his troubles at Red Bull.  "I have always known deep down I have been a pretty fierce competitor. I have never liked losing.”

Despite repeated troubles, however, Ricciardo has expressed faith that his team can bounce back from their troubles next season. For now, however, several sources within Ferrari allege he is the frontrunner.

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