Motor racing-McLaren open to Ricciardo, Red Bull…

Motor racing-McLaren open to Ricciardo, Red Bull confident he will stay

By Alan Baldwin

LE CASTELLET, France, June 22 (Reuters) – McLaren openly expressed an interest in Australian Daniel Ricciardo on Friday, but Red Bull boss Christian Horner was confident the Australian Formula One driver would be staying with his team.

The 28-year-old has won two races so far this season but is out of contract at the end of the year and considering his options.

“Obviously we love Daniel, I personally have known him for many, many years. He is doing a good job with Red Bull,” McLaren racing director Eric Boullier said at the French Grand Prix when asked about any approach.

“As long as a driver of that calibre is on the market you look if there is any discussion possible, but at this time of year it´s still too early to talk about our driver line-up for the future, so just a normal, gentle discussion,” he added.

Media reports have talked of a potential $20 million bid by McLaren, but team sources would not confirm any figures to Reuters.

McLaren currently have double world champion Fernando Alonso under contract, with Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne as team mate, but the Spaniard‘s F1 future remains uncertain after he won the Le Mans 24 Hours last weekend.

Alonso, who turns 37 next month, has also set his sights on winning the Indianapolis 500 to complete the Triple Crown of Motorsport.

Horner, sitting alongside Boullier at a scheduled news conference organised by the governing FIA, said Ricciardo would be taking “a fairly bold decision” to leave Red Bull for a team well below them in the standings.

Red Bull are currently third, while McLaren are fifth. Both teams are former champions, the former with four titles in a row between 2010 and 2013 while the latter have not won a race since late 2012.

“I would be surprised if he was to leave, because it´s a good fit between himself and Red Bull, but it is Formula One,” said Horner.

Ricciardo said on Thursday he was expecting contract talks to speed up now that Red Bull had decided to switch from Renault engines to Honda next year. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Mark Potter)

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