Christian Horner has joined fellow top Red Bull official Dr Helmut Marko in ruling out Daniel Ricciardo taking over from Sergio Perez next year.
Although the news is not yet official, Marko let the cat out of the bag in Abu Dhabi by revealing that Australian Ricciardo, 33, will return to the energy drink brand as “third driver” in 2023.
“We haven’t signed anything yet but Helmut in his enthusiasm has obviously announced it,” team boss Horner smiled on Saturday.
“So I guess that means that Daniel will be joining us – unless, of course, he chooses not to sign it.”
However, it will mainly be a non-driving role – confined to marketing activities, ‘show run’ events and in the simulator.
What the contract will not involve, according to Horner, is a provision for him to replace Perez – following the Mexican and Max Verstappen’s spat in Brazil.
“No,” said Horner. “Daniel’s contract is very specific for a specific reason.
“We have a contract with Checo for the next two years. What the partnership of Max and Checo has produced has been phenomenal for us and they do have a good relationship.
“They’ve raced well for the team and we’ve got no reason to see that being any different tomorrow or for the duration of their contractual commitment to the team thereafter.”