Of the sport’s top drivers, only Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing) and Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) have contracts beyond this season, when Ricciardo’s two-year deal with Renault expires.
Ricciardo, who is holed up on a rural property in his native Western Australia as he waits for the series to resume, doesn’t believe any of his peers would run the risk of a one-year deal, with either their existing teams or a rival, just to ensure they’re out of contract and free to negotiate as the seismic regulation shift comes on stream in 2022.
“Everything’s messed up right now and it’s hard to say, but my best guess is that people will make the decisions they want to irrespective of how things have changed,” Ricciardo told The Age.
“I find it hard to believe that anyone would sign a one-year deal just to be a free agent for ’22 because of the risks involved. Unless you’re in a unique situation, one year is normally far from ideal, so I imagine any contracts signed from now will carry over from the old regs to the new regs now coming on for ’22.
“It does make it interesting when you consider most of us aren’t contracted after this year besides Max (Verstappen) and Charles (Leclerc).”
Ricciardo admitted the news to delay the rule changes until 2022, which came after all 10 teams unanimously agreed to a postponement because of the compromised nature of this season, caught him off-guard.
“My first thought when I heard the news was surprise that it would be delayed, so I need to digest things more before working out how I feel about it other than that,” he said.
“So much is up in the air right now that anything seems possible.”
World champion Lewis Hamilton is out of contract at the end of 2020 but is widely expected to ink a lucrative new deal with Mercedes, but the futures of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) remain up in the air.