Daniel Ricciardo’s hopes of sealing a mouth-watering move to Ferrari appear over, with reports the Italian giants have chosen a replacement for Sebastian Vettel.
Ferrari announced on Tuesday that four times world champion Vettel would be leaving them at the end of the season.
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The bombshell announcement saw Ricciardo and Spaniard Carlos Sainz tipped as the two men most likely to take up a seat with Ferrari next year.
However, reports out of Italy suggest Ricciardo's hopes are dashed, with Ferrari said to prefer the younger and cheaper Sainz.
The report from Italy’s motorsport.com claims the Sainz deal will be announced in the coming days and will likely spark a dramatic shake-up among F1 teams.
Motorsport.com’s Franco Nugnes claims Ferrari view Sainz as an ideal partner for young gun Charles Leclerc, and at a more affordable price than Ricciardo.
“The Spaniard will be made official within the next 48 hours,” Nugnes reported.
“The basic agreement has already been reached, while some minor passages remain to be defined. Carlos will land in Maranello because he is considered Leclerc’s ideal companion and because he is also cheap.”
Ricciardo's former teammate at Red Bull, Max Verstappen, also said he thought the Aussie would miss out on Ferrari when asked about the situation on Monday.
McLaren's Sainz and Renault's Ricciardo were teammates of Dutch 22-year-old Verstappen at Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) and Red Bull respectively.
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"The speculation was going on a bit, is he going to continue with Ferrari or not? Well today it's out. He's not," Verstappen said in an Instagram Q&A with former racer David Coulthard..
"I guess also very soon we'll find out who the replacement is going to be. It's definitely not me, I can tell you. I'm at Red Bull," added Verstappen, whose contract runs to the end of 2023.
Asked whether he thought Vettel's replacement would be the Italian or Spanish-sounding name, Verstappen replied: "I think it's not going to be the Italian-sounding name... it's just a guess, we'll have to wait and see."
Both Ricciardo, 30, and Sainz, already on his third team at the age of 25 after a stint at Renault before McLaren, are both out of contract at the end of the season.
Sainz is tipped to be a star of the future, with the Spaniard having made his Formula One debut as a 20-year-old in 2015 and gained experience with the Torro Rosso, Renault and McLaren teams.
Spanish newspaper Marca also reported there was initial contact with Sainz last year which increased over recent weeks once Vettel's intentions became apparent to Ferrari.
The Spanish newspaper said a two-year deal for Sainz was anticipated.