Why Mercedes really snubbed Ricciardo
A SERIES of reports claim Lewis Hamilton's ego has emerged as the key reason for Mercedes overlooking Aussie Daniel Ricciardo.
The reigning champions on Friday night (AEST) announced Valtteri Bottas had re-signed on a one-year deal - with a second year clause in the team's favour.
The two years would get Mercedes through to the end of the 2020 season, when new Formula 1 owners Liberty Media are expected to announce a raft of changes to the sport.
Hamilton also re-signed with Mercedes earlier this week on a deal reportedly worth more than $140 million (£80 million) across the two years of his extension.
Bottas' new deal is worth £10 million per season, The Sun reports.
Mercedes' decision to maintain its driving partnership followed a drawn-out contract negotiation where the Silver Arrows were strongly linked with Ricciardo.
The 29-year-old Perth product is now widely reported to be on the verge of signing a new contract with Red Bull - with the door slamming shut on a possible move to Mercedes and a potential shift to Ferrari reportedly off the table.
Reports overnight revealed Mercedes was very interested in the Red Bull driver, but ultimately chose to continue with Bottas because of the potentially harmful impact the Australian's move could have had on Hamilton's championship ambitions.
The Independent in London reported Mercedes overlooked Ricciardo to avoid the in-fighting and drama that gripped the team during Nico Rosberg's championship-winning final season in the sport.
"Ricciardo, a two-time winner this season, made no secret of his desire to team up with Hamilton at Mercedes," the report claimed.
"But while the Silver Arrows were keen on the Australian, they resisted a move in order to retain a steady ship following years of political in-fighting between Hamilton and Rosberg."
The Telegraph in London also reported Bottas' ability to keep Hamilton happy was the main reason the Finnish driver earned a contract extension.
"Bottas's healthy relationship with Hamilton will have been an important factor in Mercedes deciding to keep him for another year," the newspaper reported.
"Hamilton had a rocky relationship with childhood rival Nico Rosberg, which affected team harmony."
It follows unfounded rumours that Hamilton instructed the team it was his preference for Mercedes to overlook Ricciardo.
Mercedes team principle Toto Wolff admitted his team chose to make a safe decision with Bottas.
"When we took the decision in favour of Valtteri for 2019, it wasn't just about his undoubted speed and work ethic, but also a question of character," Wolff said.
"His relationship with the team, including Lewis, is open and trusting, without any politics at all. Those are the ingredients you need when you're fighting strong rivals in both championships and they mirror the values inside the team."
It came as Red Bull boss Christian Horner announced at the German Grand Prix he expected Ricciardo to put pen to paper in the next week.
"Now that Lewis has triggered that signature, I think the rest of the positions you'll see cascade through in the next week or so," the Red Bull boss told Sky F1.
"I don't think we're set for any surprises. We've made it clear from the very beginning that we want to retain both drivers and that's what we're very focused on doing, not just for one season but for reasonable longevity."
He said the team understood that Ricciardo's decision to look elsewhere for a drive beyond this season was just business.
"You can understand it," he added.
"He's been within the RB family or 10 years, it's the first time he's effectively been out of contract, which is a new experience for him.
"Obviously he and his advisers have been having a sniff around, that's normal, that's business in this pit lane. He's comfortable where he is, I think he's happy, and hopefully it should just be quite straightforward now."
Ricciardo's hopes of winning the German Grand Prix have been rocked by a grid penalty for using too many engine parts.
The Australian driver, who has won twice this season, will start Sunday's race at Hockenheim from the back of the grid.
The tight and sinewy Hungaroring is considered one of the tracks most suited to Red Bull because of its lack of overtaking.
Ricciardo is fourth in the standings, but he could likely be overtaken by Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas (two points behind) and by Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen (13 points behind in sixth place).
- with Fox Sports
LIVE Stream the 2018 Emirates German Grand Prix, Exclusively Live & Ad-break free during racing on FOX SPORTS. SIGN UP NOW >