Australian F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo has vented his frustration at being unable to negotiate a move to Ferrari or Mercedes last season, with the talented driver being linked to the two F1 powerhouses during the last year of his contract with Red Bull.
As Ferrari brought in Charles Leclerc in place of Kimi Raikkonen, and Mercedes decided to extend Valtteri Bottas’ contract, to continue his partnership with Lewis Hamilton, Ricciardo eventually signed with Renault after opportunities at his preferred destinations dried up.
In an interview with Sky F1’s Natalie Pinkham, Ricciardo reaffirmed his displeasure, shock and frustration at being unable to secure his desired move.
Ricciardo responded to Pinkham, when asked if he was ‘frustrated’ at the situation, saying: “Yes – to answer it bluntly.
“At the end of the day in the next 12 months I still think, and everybody would say this, that Mercedes and Ferrari are going to be the teams to beat.
“Maybe other teams could take a win here or there, but I think they’re still the teams to be with short term.”
The Australian did, however, admit he was excited to be driving with Renault for the upcoming season. Although he did think he would have a greater opportunity to start higher up the grid at either Mercedes or Ferrari.
He continued: “Especially after the first six races.
“I won two out of six, so it was Seb [Vettel], Lewis and me who had won two each. At that stage no one else was really touching us.
“I felt like my pull, so to speak, couldn’t have been any higher. In a way, I did expect probably more out of that, and at the time I think rightly so.”
After speaking with both Ferrari and Mercedes last year, Ricciardo was confident of an opportunity at either team, especially as their current drivers in Raikkonen and Bottas were far from locked in.
After hearing of Ferrari’s decision to retain and promote Leclerc, Ricciardo stated that he respects and understands the situation in regard to promoting from within Ferrari’s driver academy.
“He’s a young up and coming prospect, and maybe that was part of their plan all along, regardless of what my results were and what his results were,” he explained.
“With what Ferrari have done, I see it and I respect that because I’ve seen Red Bull do it, bringing the young kids through the programme. In a way, I think it’s about time.”
At Mercedes, the decision to retain Bottas was frustrating for Ricciardo, especially as the Mercedes driver failed to win a race last season in what was the competition’s premier car.
“I guess the Mercedes one is probably a bit of a different situation,” he said. “It’s a slightly different dynamic with the path they’ve chosen.
“I guess for them it’s more conservative, but I can’t argue because it’s worked.
“Lewis has won Drivers’ Championships and the team has won Constructors’ Championships, so in a way they’ve ticked all the boxes they need.”
After what were to be fruitless talks with Mercedes and Ferrari, Ricciardo left it until the very end of the season to confirm his move away from Red Bull and from his most recent statements, he is still frustrated at the situation.