By Alan Baldwin
SPIELBERG, Austria (Reuters) – Daniel Ricciardo would rather move on.
Not from his Red Bull Formula One team, which the Australian is now committed to contractually until at least 2018, but continuing questions about his future and a possible switch to Ferrari.
He and the team made clear weeks ago that options had been taken up, but Ricciardo was asked again at the Austrian Grand Prix on Thursday to confirm he was staying for the next two seasons.
“Yeah, yeah,” he replied.
Asked for more detail, some flesh on the bones, he added: “Every word I say…one word turns into 10, and then 30 and 50. So, I’ll just leave it at that.”
Pressed further, Ricciardo said it was his decision as much as the team’s.
“We want to win. This year is going to be tough for a world title but obviously where we are this year is where we are,” he said.
“But looking ahead to next year, and spending time with the team and seeing what’s ahead, I think it’s the best place to be to try to challenge (champions) Mercedes, so that’s where it stems from.”
Former champions Red Bull are the only team to have beaten Mercedes this season, although it was Ricciardo’s 18-year-old Dutch team mate Max Verstappen who did that on his debut for the team in Spain in May rather than the Australian.
Verstappen moved up from Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s junior team, to replace demoted Russian Daniil Kvyat and Ricciardo welcomed the new challenge.
“Max came in and set a bit of a tone in Barcelona,” he said, wryly.
“That was obviously a pretty crazy weekend and I think since then it’s been good. Obviously Monaco didn’t work as well for him and he openly admitted it and took it on the chin,” he added, referring to the youngster’s crash in his next race.
“In a way we’ve thrived off the new challenge, the new rivalry, so hopefully it can keep pushing the team in the right direction.”
Ricciardo might have won in Spain and Monaco but for team errors, while Verstappen cashed in Barcelona when the Mercedes drivers collided.
The Australian said the rivalry between the pair was still a healthy one.
“I think if you’re mature about it, and if you can basically just admit if one guys better on the day and be open about it, then you’ll have good respect for each other,” he said.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)