Rival's 'bombshell' backflip on Ricciardo pursuit

A major player in the Daniel Ricciardo contract saga has changed their tack on potentially signing the Aussie F1 star.

Ricciardo’s contract with Red Bull concludes at the end of the season, setting him up as the sport’s hottest free agent.

Remaining at Red Bull alongside Max Verstappen has not been ruled out but, with Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen still unsigned, Mercedes and Ferrari both have seats open for 2019.

However Mercedes boss Toto Wolff seemingly shut that door last week.

“We are not looking at drivers outside of Mercedes at the moment because, first of all, we need to give our support to our two guys, that’s the priority,” Wolff was quoted as saying.

“It’s like if you’re happy with your wife, you don’t look elsewhere!

Bottas, Ricciardo and Raikkonen. Image: Getty

“We are with our two wives – or three (including Force India’s Esteban Ocon) – and we are not looking at that.”

However Wolff has now moved to clarify his statement, claiming he was misquoted.

“I was not translated correctly,” Wolff told Auto Bild.

“I only said that we are loyal first of all to our drivers. They are Lewis, Valtteri and the Mercedes young drivers. They come first.

“If we were to look at others, Daniel is definitely among them.”

The Express labelled Wolff’s latest comments as a “bombshell” backflip.

Ricciardo and Verstappen. Image: Getty

Ricciardo recently shot down a report that he had signed an exclusivity agreement to discuss a contract with Ferrari.

The likelihood of him deciding to stay with Red Bull took a hit in Azerbaijan when he crashed out in a crazy incident with teammate Verstappen.

Four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is expected to re-sign with Mercedes before the year is out.

“Obviously we don’t want to lose him and I don’t think he wants to go anywhere else. Everything’s going fine,” Wolff recently said.

“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be racing with each other for a few more years.”