Daniel Ricciardo has reportedly signed an option agreement with Ferrari as speculation mounts over his long-term future in Formula 1.
The Aussie has been the subject of much discussion given that his current deal runs out of the end of the season and the spotlight has become even brighter since clinching victory at the Chinese Grand Prix.
Ricciardo has recently said that he has had no discussions with either Ferrari or Mercedes, who could both have seats available in 2019, but Motorsport Magazine's Mark Hughes thinks otherwise.
'There are many different types of contractual options, but this one is said to be on both sides up to a defined date (believed to be June 30). Up until that time, neither party can officially negotiate with another,' Hughes reported.
'Because the driver is effectively locking himself out of the market for that time, discussions for his post-2018 services are contractually ‘owned’ by the team (in this case Ferrari).
'As such, he will be paid a fee. Between now and then he and Ferrari can negotiate about a future contract. This is all conventional F1 practice.'
If Ricciardo was to replace Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari, he would be reunited with former team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who formed Red Bull's line-up in 2014.