Toro Rosso, Honda, McLaren, and Renault have all been part of a confusing situation that certainly changes the F1 landscape for 2018. With Carlos Sainz Jr. hopping ship from Toro to Renault, and McLaren switching engine partners from Honda to the French supplier, things are shaping up to be much different next season. However, recent reports have shown that everything could have been much crazier as Renault apparently wanted Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo as part of the new engine trade deal.
Sources close to the situation told Motorsport.com that prior to landing Sainz Jr., Renault was actively seeking out Ricciardo, who was recently called "the most reliable driver in F1" by sport legend Mark Weber. This, as it proves, was asking too much of Red Bull as the team promptly shifted focus to Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz Jr. after Ricciardo's continued success in 2017. It also follows a report that Red Bull could be headed for a Honda partnership as quick as next year as a result of the agreement.
This could contribute to the already-interesting drivers' market come 2019 as Ricciardo's current contract will end after next season. He, along with teammate Max Verstappen and Mercedes' Valterri Bottas, will be on the auction block for teams to bid on, and Renault could potentially be in the hunt for Ricciardo when the time comes around.
As it stands, Renault is currently trying to get Sainz Jr. in the driver's seat as soon as possible. Rumors have suggested that he could race for the French outfit as soon as this year's Malaysian Grand Prix, but according to current team driver Jolyon Palmer, there won't be an open spot to give before the end of this year.
“I have a contract. I’ve got seven more races this year,” he said. “There have been suggestions for the past 35 races that I might not be at the next one, or in the next few, so this is nothing new for me. It’s water off a duck’s back now.
“It’s the same, I think at probably most races this year it’s been the case and nothing has changed.”