Daniel Ricciardo says whoever replaces Nico Rosberg at Mercedes in 2017 has 'an amazing Christmas present' and plays down any chance of him ditching Red Bull next year.
The Australian driver was present in Vienna for the FIA awards gala where Rosberg made his shock announcement that he is retiring from Formula 1 with immediate effect, less than a week after sealing a maiden world title.
As well as paying tribute to the new F1 world champion in an Instagram post, Ricciardo says the German has suddenly given his potential replacement a huge gift with a title-contending race seat.
READ: Nico Rosberg retires from F1 with immediate effect
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says identifying Rosberg's replacement will begin this Monday (5th December) with obvious candidates remaining unclear with the majority of F1 drivers already under contract for 2017.
As a result, a wide range of candidates have been speculated including Ricciardo but the Australia seems to dismiss the idea of an equally surprising switch from Red Bull to Mercedes this winter.
“The big news was Nico announcing his retire, that was pretty unexpected I guess and he has just given someone an amazing Christmas present,” Ricciardo said. “Whoever gets that seat I hope they appreciate what they're getting. Good on him for having the nuts to say that is enough. He obviously achieved what he wanted so fair play.”
Ricciardo recently confirmed a new two-year deal with Red Bull which will see him at the Milton Keynes team until the end of the 2018 Formula 1 season.
VOTE: Who should replace Rosberg at Mercedes in 2017?
In a typically jokey social media post, Ricciardo also dug into Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen for sweeping to a third straight FIA Action of the Year award and his second consecutive FIA Personality of the Year gong.
“Max was there as well… if you are in the top three in your championship it is compulsory to go,” he said. “There are some other awards and Max took all of those ones. I am convinced he pays them but I am flying with him soon so I will find out.”
Latest Tweets from Crash.net & GPF1rst