Vettel warms to Ricciardo joining Ferrari

The Ferrari welcome mat has been thrown out to off-contract Australian Daniel Ricciardo by four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel.

But Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton has baulked at doing the same ahead of Sunday's Formula One season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Ricciardo has been linked to Ferrari and four-time world champion Hamilton's all conquering Mercedes outfit next year, after postponing contract extension talks with Red Bull until at least April.

Vettel had a shocker in 2014 when Ricciardo was his Red Bull teammate, becoming the first defending champion to fail to win a race in the following season since Jacques Villeneuve in 1998.

However, the German warmed to the suggestion Ricciardo could join him again next year.

"I don't know what he is up to or what he wants, how much he is asking, but I am confident he will find a seat," Vettel said.

"We had one year together which wasn't so good for me but I knew him before that.

"We get along so I wouldn't mind if we got together again in the future.

"But I don't know what his plan is. He has a couple of options and he doesn't need to rush."

Hamilton was not so keen to speculate on Ricciardo wearing Mercedes colours in 2019.

The Briton was wary of burning his Mercedes outfit as he looked to overcome Vettel's looming threat and equal Argentine great Juan Manuel Fangio's five world crowns this year.

Only Michael Schumacher (seven) has won more.

"I look at the history and what drivers have said in the past and I try not to alienate the team that you are in," Hamilton said.

"It's all good and well to look at experiencing something new in another team, but there are a lot of people in our team and it's really important to keep them encouraged and focused on you to help achieve your goal.

"Some drivers recently have made some bad decisions in upsetting (their team by speculating about another) and rocking the boat.

"But he is at a great place at Red Bull. This year, he has a real chance to win a championship."

Five-time grand prix winner Ricciardo said he was in no rush to decide his future.

"I feel like I have answered so many contract questions and we haven't had the first race done," he said.

"I am going to put all those thoughts on hold for a while.

"Our preparation has been good and I am hopeful of fighting for a title.

"I will take my time. Ask me in six months' time."

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