Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Ferrari’s treatment of Kimi Raikkonen should serve as a warning to Daniel Ricciardo as he weighs his future.
Ricciardo is out of contract at the end of the season and has been linked with a move to either Mercedes or Ferrari next year with three of the four seats technically still open for 2019. After an impressive win for the 28-year-old in China, Horner pointed to Ferrari’s use of Raikkonen – compromising the Finn’s strategy to aid Sebastian Vettel – as a warning against Ricciardo joining the Scuderia.
“If you look at Kimi’s race, I didn’t understand that strategy,” Horner said. “I think Daniel’s happy in the environment. If we can give him a car like we did [to win in China], why would he want to be anywhere else?”
When it was put to Horner that Ricciardo has been having a tough time at Red Bull prior to his win last time out, Horner replied: “[The win] was great for him.
“He had the energy store failure in Bahrain, he had a turbo failure [in FP3 in China], losing him important track time. You get to a point where you think ‘what next,’ but it’s a great confidence booster for him, to get this result now in this point in the year. Everything is wide open.”
And Horner says Ricciardo is the perfect partner for Max Verstappen at present, as the Australian is the more complete driver at this stage of his F1 career, with Verstappen coming under increased scrutiny after a number of incidents this season.
“[Daniel] is a very rounded driver now. He’s absolutely at the top of his game and I think he has been for the last couple of years. He’s hit that balance of experience and pace.
“He’s one of the best overtakers in the business and his judgement is impeccable in terms of judging a gap, getting the car stopped and getting it rotated. I feel he’s in a different part of his career to where Max is at the moment, who is still very young and fresh and going through that experience.”