Daniel Ricciardo may have openly auditioned for Red Bull today at Silverstone, but the Australian driver is refusing to get caught up in rumors linking him with Mark Webber’s seat at the team next season.
After Christian Horner confirmed that Red Bull were only considering Ricciardo and Raikkonen for the seat, you could forgive the Toro Rosso driver for getting his hopes up. However, he is just pleased to have had the chance to test the RB9 today.
“In terms of the inevitable speculation, I think this test is something for Red Bull to look at, but there’s still the rest of the season with Toro Rosso to do, so I’ll switch my focus back to that and won’t get too caught up in any rumours,” Ricciardo explained in a team statement.
His day was not as smooth as he would have liked though, making a mistake which saw him beach the RB9 in the gravel just seven laps into his first run.
“I had a small off but otherwise it was a trouble-free day. The off was my mistake, I just lost the rear on the entry. It was a good opportunity to get behind the wheel and experience two different beasts today.”
Ricciardo will return to his duties with Toro Rosso for the rest of the season, with Red Bull expected to make an announcement regarding the second seat at some point over the summer.
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.