Ferrari address Ricciardo bombshell
The F1 world sent into meltdown earlier in the week with speculation of Sebastian Vettel's possible retirement could open a mouth-watering seat at Ferrari.
Vettel has been increasingly frustrated since the Canadian Grand Prix when a stewards call of a five-second penalty.
Vettel had led the race from pole position with a little more than 20 laps remaining but a mistake with Lewis Hamilton closing in saw him veer onto the grass before swerving back onto the track and forcing Hamilton to slam on his brakes.
It has increased speculation the 32-year-old German is set to leave Ferrari for retirement, or even a huge move back to Red Bull, the team he won his four-straight world titles with between 2010 and 2013.
With a vacancy at one of the big three teams of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull a rare occurrence, it's raised rumours of one of the biggest shuffles in recent memory in F1.
Ricciardo turned 30 this week and remains contracted with Renault until the end of the 2020 season but Auto Auction's Dan Knutson outlined how Ferrari could begin the 2020 season with a star driver pairing of Ricciardo and Charles Leclerc.
The report claims Ricciardo and Mercedes star Valtteri Bottas are on Ferrari's wish list should Vettel decide to retire at the end of the 2019 season.
"The bottom line is that Mercedes is very likely to retain Bottas, and Vettel is unlikely to retire at the end of this season," Auto Action reported.
"But Ferrari has initiated moves to make sure it is not suddenly left without two top drivers in 2020, and Ricciardo and Bottas are at the top of the wish list for the Prancing Horse team."
Ricciardo was reportedly believed to be on the Ferrari radar in 2018 but stayed with Red Bull after the deal didn't come to fruition before his blockbuster move to Renault.
While the speculation is rife Ricciardo could link up with the Italian giants, Ferrari youngster Charles Leclerc poured cold water on a spot being opened for the Aussie.
"I don't see him (Vettel) quitting. I can't speak for him, but he looks more motivated than ever and he works hard to do his best for the team," Leclerc told German publication, Bild.
"It's nice to see how he works. I think he's good dealing with the pressure because there is always pressure after you have won so many titles. Even if I beat him, that is no reason for him to stop."
The mouth-watering possibility of such big name moves has some added excitement around the sport but the big names were quick to quash the moves.
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto was asked if Verstappen would interest them for 2020 if he was available.
"No, certainly not," Binotto told Sky Sports. "I can only confirm what Seb (Vettel) said. We have got two drivers, we have got contracts in place, we are very happy.
"Next season our line-up is fixed and there are no reasons why we should change. Things are going well in that respect."
Red Bull are also confident about holding onto Verstappen.
"We're very happy with him, he's happy within the team, I don't see there being any changes for next year," Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said before the Austrian Grand Prix.
"It's more about 2021, when all of them are out of contract, than for 2020.
"I heard this thing about 'he has to win a race'. That's not the case at all. There's always speculation at this time of year."
After the race, Horner left a little wiggle room.
"The contract between the driver and team will always stay confidential but it's safe to say that every driver in this pit lane has got clauses in their contract," he said.
"There's been speculation about Max's contract and it's purely speculation. He's very happy within the team, he believes in this project and days like today only endorse that. I have no doubts about Max."
Mercedes' Toto Wolff also said he hadn't spoken to Verstappen.