Red Bull prioritising engine over Ricciardo decision

Daniel Ricciardo

Red Bull Racing intends to decide which engine it will run next year before it enters final talks with Daniel Ricciardo over his driving future.

Ricciardo is off-contract at the end of the season and has been linked to each of the current big three in Formula 1, namely his current home, Ferrari, or Mercedes.

Red Bull is meanwhile mulling over its choice of powerplant for 2019, which is between incumbent Renault or Scuderia Toro Rosso’s supplier Honda.

Ricciardo’s hand has been strengthened by his highly impressive maiden Monaco Grand Prix victory in an ailing RB14 which the team says was down 25 percent on power due to an MGU-K failure 18 laps in.

Team principal Christian Horner says that Red Bull will make a call on its engine supplier before it moves to the final stage of talks with the West Australian.

“You could say that (Monaco win) made Daniel more expensive, it has put his value up, or it’s put the team in a stronger position in terms of valuable potential to him,” said Horner.

“The reality is finding a solution to conclude a deal with Daniel in the next couple of months.

“First thing is get the engine sorted and then very much follow on from there with (the) driver.”

Renault had been agitating for a decision from Red Bull about whether it would continue with the French organisation by the end of this month.

Its reliability problems have continued in 2018 with notable failures for Ricciardo not just in Monaco but also Bahrain and practice for the Chinese Grand Prix which saw Car #3 nearly miss qualifying.

Honda’s engines have not been faultless either, but the Japanese firm has displayed a significant improvement in both reliability in power since switching from McLaren to Red Bull’s junior team in the off-season.

Horner says that the team will take another month or so, which encompasses at least the Canadian and French Grands Prix, to make a call.

Both Renault and Honda are expecting to unleash significant engine upgrades when the F1 circus heads to Montreal next week.

“It will all depend on the data,” he said.

“We’re about a month or so away. End of June, beginning of July is the timescale we’ve always talked about.

“We’re waiting with great interest to see the relative performance of the engines in Montreal in two weeks’ time.”

Ricciardo’s win in Monte-Carlo moved him to third in the championship, albeit still nearly a full race (24 points) behind second-placed Sebastian Vettel.

His team-mate Max Verstappen, who is signed with Red Bull until the end of 2020, drove from last on the grid after crashing in practice to finish ninth, leaving him sixth in the standings.

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