Daniel Ricciardo has denied signing a pre-contract agreement with Ferrari for 2019, claiming that Red Bull is the only Formula 1 team he has discussed any potential plans for next year with.

Ricciardo’s existing Red Bull F1 contract expires at the end of the 2018 season, and the Australian has been linked strongly with moves to fellow front-runners Mercedes or Ferrari.

Recent reports suggested that Ricciardo may have signed an agreement with Ferrari to not hold talks with any other team, but he denied this was the case during Thursday’s FIA press conference in Azerbaijan.

“The reports I have a contract with Ferrari are not true – I can say that,” Ricciardo said.

Ricciardo also confirmed he has not held any talks with either Ferrari or Mercedes about a possible drive for 2019, instead focusing on his existing duties with Red Bull.

"I’ve only had talks with Red Bull. Even last year we were pretty open with each other, they are interested in keeping me.

“I’m aware of other reports, but there hasn’t been anything else, they’re not true.”

Ricciardo added he would not consider joining a team where he would not be given equal opportunities to fight for world titles.

“I have to make sure there’s clarity wherever I go. I wouldn’t go somewhere where I felt I would have no chance – that’s my priority. If I was told I could go to a team but couldn’t do certain things then I wouldn’t go.

“In Red Bull there’s always been clarity and fairness, so I expect that from whatever environment I go to.”

The only drivers locked into contracts for 2019 are Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari and Ricciardo’s Red Bull teammate, Max Verstappen. Fernando Alonso also has an option to remain at McLaren next year, though the Spaniard is yet to confirm his decision. 

Both Mercedes seats currently remain free, but Lewis Hamilton is widely expected to put pen to paper on a contract extension in the coming months, leaving Valtteri Bottas’ position at risk.

Asked how he would feel about going up against Hamilton in the same team, Ricciardo replied: “I want to challenge the best and Lewis is up there, so it would be a big challenge.

“I have a big challenge with Max, had it with Seb, but Lewis would also be a good challenge.”

Red Bull has set Ricciardo a deadline of F1’s summer break in August to sign a new contract before the team will begin looking for his replacement, but the Australian is remaining calm about his situation.

“I don’t fear I won’t have a seat next year, so I can wait for the summer to make a decision. If the only option is Red Bull, that’s it, but I don’t feel I have to push for anything.

“The main requirement is to put myself in a position to win the world championship – and that’s not to say it cannot be done with Red Bull. Realistically we need to win more than once per season to win the championship.”

Additional reporting by Lewis Larkam

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