SPIELBERG, Austria (Reuters) - Australian Daniel Ricciardo has no competitive alternative to staying with his Red Bull Formula One team and a deal is likely soon, according to the energy drink company’s motorsport consultant Helmut Marko.
Ricciardo, 28, is out of contract at the end of the season and mulling his options. He has said he is looking for a two-year deal.
“I don’t think Daniel is in a good position,” Marko told motorsport.com at a promotional event ahead of this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix.
“Mercedes and Ferrari have a number one driver who is clearly declared. I know Ricciardo did not receive an offer from Ferrari.”
Champions Mercedes and Ferrari both have potential vacancies alongside four times world champions Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.
Ricciardo is not considered a frontrunner for either, however, despite being third in the current championship after two victories.
McLaren have expressed an interest and would, according to informed sources, be willing to raise Ricciardo’s salary considerably, but the former champions have not won a race since 2012 and are fifth overall.
They are also waiting on double world champion Fernando Alonso to decide whether he is staying or going, and have highly-rated British teenager Lando Norris set to step up from his reserve role.
Renault could be another option, with Spaniard Carlos Sainz only on loan from Red Bull, but they are focused on improving their car rather than spending more of the budget on an expensive driver.
“Renault will, as far as I know, stay with the current drivers. Above all, I don’t think Renault is playing in the budget regions that Ricciardo has in mind,” said Marko.
“Daniel is in a situation where he has no sporting alternative to us. He probably imagined it differently,” added the Austrian, making clear that Red Bull wanted him to stay but “not at any price”.
Ricciardo said last weekend that he expected Red Bull to ramp up discussions about a new contract now that they have announced a switch from Renault to Honda engines for next season.
“Ideally for them, they’d want something sooner rather than later. Probably in the next two weeks would be ideal for them,” he said then.
Red Bull’s other driver, 20-year-old Dutchman Max Verstappen, has a long-term deal that is believed to pay him significantly more than Ricciardo gets.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Amlan Chakraborty