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Daniel Ricciardo re-affirms commitment to Red Bull for next two years

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Daniel Ricciardo has dismissed suggestions that he could move to Mercedes for either the 2017 or 2018 Formula 1 seasons, re-affirming his commitment to Red Bull Racing.

Ricciardo has been one of F1’s most prominent drivers in recent years, finishing third in the drivers’ standings in 2014 and 2016 and claiming four grand prix victories.

The Australian has been tipped to mount a challenge for the World Championship next year with Red Bull, with the team making great progress across the course of 2016.

Ricciardo was one of a number of drivers linked to the vacant seat at Mercedes for 2017, made available following Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement from F1 five days after winning his maiden title.

However, Ricciardo confirmed earlier this week that his contract with Red Bull runs for another two seasons, taking him to the end of the 2018 campaign.

“I’ve got two more years at Red Bull. That’s where I’m going to be,” Ricciardo told Australian Associated Press  in Perth.

“There’s a lot of people that are tempted to jump into that [Mercedes] seat, and you don’t blame them.

“I just hope whoever gets it appreciates it. It’s a damn good one.

“But for me, you’ll see me at Albert Park in a Red Bull.”

Mercedes is expected to sign Valtteri Bottas from Williams for 2017 in a deal that will see Felipe Massa come out of retirement and return to a race seat with the British team.

A number of F1’s high-profile drivers will be out of contract at the end of the 2017 season, including McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari, making them options for Mercedes should Bottas be handed a short-term deal.

Ricciardo’s future remains secure, it appears, having formed a successful partnership with Max Verstappen during their time together at Red Bull through the 2016 season.

The 2017 season gets underway in Melbourne, Australia on March 26.

Video highlights from Stage 12 of Dakar Rally, 2 stages remain

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Thursday’s Stage 12 of the 40th Dakar Rally not only closed the overall standings gap in at least two classes (cars and trucks), two other classes (bikes and quads) failed to get going due to weather conditions.

The full video highlights of Stage 12 will air on NBCSN on Friday at 7 pm ET, but here are some of the highlights from Thursday’s action:

CARS

2018 Dakar Rally: Nasser Al-Attiyah wins Stage 12 of cars

BIKES

 Stage 12 cancelled due to weather conditions

 

TRUCKS

Ton van Genugten edged out Martin Kolomy in Stage of, while Federico Villagra and Eduard Nikolaev both faced an uphill battle to finish fourth and third respectively.

QUADS

Even though the Quads were also impacted by weather issues on Thursday, Ignacio Casale, the 2014 Dakar winner, continues to make his case for a second overall victory in the quads.