Lauda to Marko: 'Ricciardo blackmailed you with Hamilton!'


Mercedes and Red Bull appear to be involved in a waiting game with regard to their drivers for 2019, with Lewis Hamilton holding everyone off.

The four-time world champion has yet to commit to Mercedes for the future, and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo is on the sidelines until his rival signs on the dotted line, according to Helmut Marko.

The Red Bull motorsport boss was at the Red Bull Ring yesterday to witness the first run in an F1 car of MotoGP star Marc Marquez. During the post-test press conference he was flanked by his old friend Niki Lauda and the two men engaged in an interesting exchange.

"Lewis will sign. We only discuss details, not the money," insisted the Mercedes non-executive chairman.

"It’s about promotion performances. Lewis stays safely with us, that will be solved."

As far as Marko is concerned, Hamilton's signing can't happen soon enough.

"I hope that finally gets signed. Because Ricciardo says that, as long as Hamilton is not yet contracted to Mercedes, he also does not want to sign. It’s a bit strange! " admitted Marko.

Hearing that, Lauda lost no time in winding up his fellow Austrian while also setting the record straight with regard to Ricciardo's prospects of joining the Silver Arrows squad.

"Ricciardo blackmailed you with Hamilton, who has not yet signed! What Hamilton gets, he cannot get anyway. So, we have not made him an offer."

Red Bull's other pressing issue however is which power unit the Milton Keynes-based squad will be running with next season: Renault or Honda.

"We have an internal timetable that we want to have decisions on the engine and driver issues by the Austrian Grand Prix," Marko said.

All should therefore be revealed by July 1.

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