Honda’s 2018 F1 fortunes could dictate Ricciardo’s Red Bull future

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Daniel Ricciardo has conceded that Honda’s performances with Toro Rosso in Formula 1 next year could dictate his future amid speculation of a similar engine deal for Red Bull in 2019.

Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s F1 B-team, announced on Friday in Singapore it would be working with Honda from the start of next season, with the Japanese marque’s existing deal with McLaren being terminated by mutual consent at the end of the year.

The deal has been tipped as a precursor for a future link-up between Red Bull and Honda in 2019 following paddock suggestions that Renault will stop working with the team at the end of next season, having picked up McLaren as a customer team this week.

Honda’s struggles since returning to F1 in 2015 have been well-documented, causing the McLaren relationship to fracture due to a lack of performance and reliability from its power units.

With his contract set to expire at the end of next year, Ricciardo is set to be a key player in the driver market for 2019 when seats at every single team on the grid are due to be available.

Should a deal with Honda be struck for Red Bull, Ricciardo conceded he would take its performances with Toro Rosso into account next year when it came to deciding his future.

“I guess next year would be a pretty big year for that to assess what is going to happen, how they’ll look, how Honda is with where it’s at,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“You’d assess the situation and go from there. It’s so early to think about it.

“But I’ll think about it next year, and that’ll dictate where I go.”

When asked directly if Honda would be supplying engines to Red Bull in 2019, general motorsport manager Masashi Yamamoto admitted on Friday it could be an option.

“Our main goal now is to absolutely concentrate on 2018 and Toro Rosso. We are going to give our best to achieve our best performance together as a team,” Yamamoto said.

“But if there is a chance in the future to supply engines, why not?”

The only driver who looks locked in for 2019 is Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari, with the rest of the field being free agents come the end of next season, including Ricciardo’s current teammate Max Verstappen.

Ferrari is understood to have expressed an interest in signing Ricciardo before, potentially rekindling the Australian’s partnership with Vettel at Red Bull from 2014.

Mercedes will also have two free seats for 2019, with both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas’ contracts expiring at the end of 2018.

Talking about Red Bull’s current driver line-up, team boss Christian Horner said he saw no reason to make any changes moving forward, but that there were plenty of options should they be required.

“Both of our drivers are currently under contract at least for next year, and it’s down to us to produce a good car and be competitive. Then, of course, why would the drivers want to be anywhere else?” Horner said.

“We’re not short of options on drivers, but our preference is absolutely to retain the two that we have in the car at the moment.”

Supercross reveals 2023 Daytona track designed by Ricky Carmichael for 16th time

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For the 16th consecutive year, Ricky Carmichael has designed a signature course for the Daytona Supercross race, which will be March 4, 2023.

Eli Tomac took advantage of a last lap mistake by Cooper Webb last year to win a record setting sixth Daytona race – and with that win, he broke out of a tie Carmichael.

Construction on the course will begin two days after the completion of the 65th running of NASCAR’s Daytona 500 when haulers start to unload 7,200 tons of dirt onto the grassy infield in order to create a course 3,300 feet long.

“Ricky has designed yet another incredible course for this year’s Daytona Supercross,” said Daytona International Speedway President Frank Kelleher in a press release. “We’re thrilled to unveil it to the fans, and we can’t wait for them to come out to the track and see it in person.”

MORE: Designs for SuperMotocross finals at zMax Raceway and Chicagoland Speedway

Carmichael’s Daytona course will take center stage for Round 8 of the 17-race Supercross season and the 31-race SuperMotocross season.

The Supercross race coincides with Daytona’s Bike Week, which runs from March 3-12 and includes races from the American Flat Track series and the legendary Daytona 200 speedway race that is contested on the infield road course.

Last year’s course was reported to have 57 obstacles including the return of an over-under bridge. For 2023 the number of obstacles listed in 42, but that will not keep this from being one of the toughest tracks on which the Monster Energy Supercross series will race.

Many of the same elements from last year will be present including sharp turns, vaulted jumps, sand sections and a finish line that aligns with the oval tracks’ start/finish line.

“This year’s Daytona Supercross design is one of the best,” Carmichael said. “It races great for the riders – it’s safe yet challenging and it’s very similar to last year with the split lanes. Daytona is the toughest, gnarliest race on the Supercross circuit, but it’s the most special to win.

“This track is going to produce great racing and I think the riders are going to put on a fantastic display for all our fans.”

While Tomac has dominated this race during his career, Daytona has also been the site of some other dramatic victories. In 2021 Aaron Plessinger scored his first career Supercross podium in 35 starts with a win there and reversed a three-year streak of bad luck on the track.

The Daytona Supercross race is the first of two the series will contest on speedway infield courses. A little more than one month later, Atlanta Motor Speedway will enter their third season as a supercross venue. These two courses will serve as an early test for the SuperMotocross three-race finale that begins September 9, 2023 at zMax Dragway in Charlotte, North Carolina. The three playoff races will each be held on courses that contain elements of Supercross and Motocross, much like Daytona and Atlanta.