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Alonso, Ricciardo reject speculation over Red Bull move

Fernando Alonso has rejected speculation that he is set to join Red Bull. Photo: AFP

Veteran drivers Fernando Alonso and Daniel Ricciardo both denied on Thursday that they were about to leave their teams to join Red Bull next season. 

Two-time world champion Alonso, 42, angrily hit out at claims he will depart the Aston Martin team to take Sergio Perez’s seat alongside world champion Max Verstappen.

He dismissed the speculation as “the normal paddock rumours from people who try to make fun of it and gain some followers (on social media).”

Speaking to reporters ahead of this weekend’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix, he added: “I will make sure there are consequences.” 

When asked to elaborate, the Spaniard was advised by a team representative not to go any further.

Ricciardo also rejected widespread reports that he is poised to replace Perez and stressed that he is happy to be back racing in Formula One with Alpha Tauri.

The 34-year-old Australian, who finished a rousing seventh in last Sunday’s Mexico Grand Prix after qualifying fourth, said he was focused only on Alpha Tauri and maintaining improved form. 

“All the stuff around my contract next year has been related to Alpha Tauri—I would say that’s, honestly, as far as that goes,” he told reporters.

His strong performance was the team’s best of the season and lifted Alpha Tauri from 10th to eighth in the constructors’ championship. 

“For me personally, having a weekend like Mexico is just definitely good for the soul,” he added. 

“And, also, for the team. I haven’t been here long, but for them to be 10th in the constructors and to jump two places in the space of two weekends was huge.

“I think that creates a very happy atmosphere around everyone. I’m happy doing that and I’ll try to just keep charging on where I am.” 

The Australian’s return to form after recovering from a broken hand prompted widespread speculation that he would be promoted from Red Bull’s junior team to their senior outfit.  

But Red Bull team chief Christian Horner has so far maintained his faith in struggling Perez, who crashed out of last Sunday’s race in Mexico at the first corner, and said the team will help him regain his confidence. 

Newly-crowned three-time world champion Max Verstappen, who won in Mexico, raced alongside Ricciardo in the Red Bull team for two seasons from 2016 to 2018. 

He said he had not had any conversations about a change of team-mate, but added that he had enjoyed his relationship with both Perez and Ricciardo.

“I always had a great relationship with Daniel when we were team-mates and I also have one with Checo so it’s unfair to say who I would prefer,” he said. 

“It isn’t up to me to make these decisions because I am very focused on my own performance.”

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