Daniel Ricciardo has revealed his frustration at the current market for driver transfers and a move to Mercedes or Ferrari that failed to materialise after he made the decision to leave Red Bull, as he believes they will once again be the two teams to beat in 2019.
During the 2018 season, Ricciardo announced he would be leaving Red Bull in favour of Renault, despite the French team being viewed as a midtable outfit.
During an interview on Natalie Pinkham's In The Pink Podcast, Ricciardo responded with regret when asked he was frustrated that he didn't get a move to one of the two elite teams.
“Yes – to answer it bluntly," the Australian said.
“At the end of the day in the next 12 months I still think, and everybody would say this, that Mercedes and Ferrari are going to be the teams to beat.
“Maybe other teams could take a win here or there, but I think they’re still the teams to be with short term.”
Last campaign Ricciardo won two out of the opening six races, meaning his stock was high, and he has admitted his surprise that no subsequent offers came in.
“Especially after the first six races,” he responded when asked by Pinkham about whether he thought more options would be presented.
“I won two out of six, so it was Seb [Vettel], Lewis and me who had won two each. At that stage no one else was really touching us.
“I felt like my pull, so to speak, couldn’t have been any higher. In a way, I did expect probably more out of that, and at the time I think rightly so.”
Ferrari shook up their driving line-up by replacing Kimi Raikkonen with Charles Leclerc, while Mercedes are one of the few teams who made no changes, with Valtteri Bottas being retained alongside Lewis Hamilton.
In Ricciardo's opinion, that was a "conservative" move by the Silver Arrows.
“He’s [Leclerc] a young up and coming prospect, and maybe that was part of their plan all along, regardless of what my results were and what his results were,” he continued.
“With what Ferrari have done, I see it and I respect that because I’ve seen Red Bull do it, bringing the young kids through the programme. In a way, I think it’s about time.
“I guess the Mercedes one is probably a bit of a different situation. It’s a slightly different dynamic with the path they’ve chosen.
“I guess for them it’s more conservative, but I can’t argue because it’s worked.
“Lewis has won Drivers’ Championships and the team has won Constructors’ Championships, so in a way they’ve ticked all the boxes they need.”