Formula One ace Daniel Ricciardo has ruled out filling the “damn good” seat at Mercedes next season, saying he’s committed to Red Bull for the next two years.
Mercedes are on the lookout for a new driver to team with Lewis Hamilton following the shock retirement of world champion Nico Rosberg.
Mercedes were rumoured to be interested in luring Ricciardo their way, but the 27-year-old says he’s staying put at Red Bull.
“I’ve got two more years at Red Bull. That’s where I’m going to be,” Ricciardo said in Perth on Wednesday.
“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.”
Williams driver Valtteri Bottas is expected to join Mercedes, who were a class above their rivals this year.
As part of the musical chairs, Felipe Massa is set to come out of retirement to rejoin Williams in place of Bottas.
Ricciardo said he looked back at his 2016 campaign very fondly, despite Red Bull’s cars falling well short of being able to consistently challenge Mercedes.
The West Australian finished third in the Championship race, with his sole victory coming at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
It wasn’t only on the track where Ricciardo impressed.
His trademark celebration of drinking alcohol out of his own shoe – dubbed a shoey – catapulted him into cult hero status.
Even upon his return to Perth for Christmas, Ricciardo has been reminded of his shoey exploits.
“I was having lunch yesterday in a cafe, just having a salad,” Ricciardo said.
“I reckon this lady was in her 80s, and she goes, ‘I’m waiting for you to take your shoe off and drink out of it’.
“It’s even spread that wide that I’m expected to do it from 80-year-olds at lunch.
“I said, ‘Look love, it’s only a Tuesday’.”
Ricciardo is West Coast’s No.1 ticket holder, and he caught up with his friend Nic Naitanui at Eagles training on Wednesday.
The forecast 40-degree heat didn’t deter either of them.
“Living in Europe, we don’t really get this Aussie heat. So I crave it when I come home,” said Ricciardo, who will be firmly in holiday mode over the next week.
“I’m just looking forward to spending time with mates and family over the next few weeks. And then focus on next year.”