Rumour in the paddock is that Daniel Ricciardo has been offered a very generous package by McLaren for 2019 and beyond.
Out of the top six drivers on the grid, only Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel are under contract, which makes the 2019 driver market an open season.
But it is very likely that Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will continue to stay with Mercedes for the next year. Kimi Räikkönen may also get an extension for another year to continue his role as driver number two for Ferrari.
Ricciardo is currently the biggest driver in the open market and is supposedly being lured even by McLaren.
German sports magazine Sport Bild reported that the Woking outfit has put a multi-year deal on offer for the Aussie driver. The deal size is said to be worth $20 million a year.
Ricciardo’s current deal with Red Bull is rumoured to be around $6 million a year while his Dutch teammate is earning $4 million more, mostly due to his new extended contract.
McLaren’s current driver Fernando Alonso allegedly charges twice as much and is said to be in the mood to leave the series by the end of the year.
The news is significant as it comes out just a day after Red Bull announced Honda as their new engine supplier for 2019-20.
The Aussie is yet to make a decision on his next move and reportedly he was also waiting to see which way Red Bull will go in terms of engine.
Ricciardo became a hot property owing to his steady performance and two race wins this season.
The Austrian team’s F1 advisor Dr Helmut Marko acknowledged Ricciardo’s position.
Speaking with Sport Bild, Marko said: “Daniel Ricciardo is the king of the market,”
“McLaren offers him more every week, but above all, some people in Mercedes would absolutely want to join them in the team.”
Marko believes Ricciardo will not get the same status as Lewis Hamilton in Mercedes or Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari.
But Red Bull is no different. In the past, they preferred Vettel over Mark Webber and now they seem to lean harder on Verstappen’s side.
Ricciardo has been given the final deadline as August to re-sign with Red Bull, according to team boss Christian Horner.