Daniel Ricciardo has said he is still frustrated that a 2019 move to either Ferrari or Mercedes failed to materialise.
The Aussie used the 2018 season as an opportunity to assess his options after entering the final year on his Red Bull contract.
But, rumoured moves to the top two title rivals, who Ricciardo firmly believes will be the ones to beat in 2019, did not come his way.
“Yes – to answer it bluntly,” Ricciardo said when asked by Sky F1’s Natalie Pinkham on her In the Pink podcast if he was frustrated.
“Maybe other teams could take a win here or there, but I think they’re still the teams to be with short term.”
Ricciardo’s stock could not have been higher after a great start to the 2018 campaign, but his waiting game did not pay off as initially intended.
“Especially after the first six races,” he added.
“I won two out of six, so it was Seb [Vettel], Lewis and me who had won two each. At that stage no one else was really touching us.
“I felt like my pull, so to speak, couldn’t have been any higher. In a way, I did expect probably more out of that, and at the time I think rightly so.”
Ricciardo went on to say that he understood Ferrari’s eventual decision to go with Charles Leclerc over Kimi Raikkonen, but labelled Mercedes’ choice to stick with Valtteri Bottas as a “conservative” one.
“He’s [Leclerc] a young up and coming prospect, and maybe that was part of their plan all along, regardless of what my results were and what his results were,” he explained.
“With what Ferrari have done, I see it and I respect that because I’ve seen Red Bull do it, bringing the young kids through the programme. In a way, I think it’s about time.
“I guess the Mercedes one is probably a bit of a different situation. It’s a slightly different dynamic with the path they’ve chosen.
“I guess for them it’s more conservative, but I can’t argue because it’s worked.
“Lewis has won Drivers’ Championships and the team has won Constructors’ Championships, so in a way they’ve ticked all the boxes they need.”
Ricciardo opted for a new start after all as he swapped Red Bull for Renault, with the view of helping the Enstone team crack the top three in the seasons to come.