Toto confirms that he had followed last year Daniel Ricciardo, but did not deepen the discussions because satisfied with the performance of Bottas in the first half of the championship
Renault the alternative to Red Bull more concrete. A huge bet, to prove himself as a winner. Never a real chance to discuss a ride in Ferrari or Mercedes, for Daniel Ricciardo, as admitted by our Australian pilot. That the crucial step of his career has chosen to be linked to a project still in the process of growth.
Betting on a Renault to push toward the summit, turn it into a winning team, this was the surprise: a move that cut out Esteban Ocon. A rough agreement reached between Wolff and Abiteboul but the future of our Australian pilot is a bit difficult.
Toto Wolff who, on the interest of Ricciardo by Mercedes, came back to talk in Melbourne. He said there has never been nothing serious, there were other priorities at the time:
We always kept an eye on Daniel, we would have liked to have it. But the Mercedes mentality predicts that if you are happy with the relationship you have it is not easy to change.
It was not a lack of interest but we already had a happy relationship and there was no reason to flirt with someone else, then…Toto Wolff Mercedes F1 Team Principal
Bottas that, after the disappointing Australian departure of a year ago, with the accident in qualifying, showed an excellent performance, including achievements in Bahrain, Grand Prix of China with victory in the pocket before the neutralization of the VSC, the Grand Prix of Baku shaded for drilling, the excellent performance in Canada. The Finnish driver was the main choice:
For the way we operate, we first discuss whether we are happy with our pilots. If we are not, we start arguing with others. If we had been unhappy with Valtteri in May or June, we would have continued a discussions with Daniel but everything changed.
Since Valtteri at that point of the season was very good, we did not want to waste time in DanielToto Wolff Mercedes F1 Team Principal