James Allen first reported the news on his website Sunday, as Webber informed the reporter of the decision prior to Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix during a segment on Australian Network 10.
Ricciardo has yet to officially acknowledge his status as Red Bull Racing’s newest driver and will not until he has signed the contract, telling Allen:
Honestly mate, not yet. Until it’s a done deal and I’ve been given the nod and it’s all settled I’m not going to get excited. Who knows? Kimi [Raikkonen] could well still be in contention along with a few other guys. If it gets done then I’ll get excited for a little bit but then I’ll have a pretty big task ahead for the following season.
Webber is retiring from Formula One and leaving Red Bull Racing to take up sportscar racing with a goal of winning the Le Mans 24 hours. He’s signed a long-term deal with Porsche in attempt to achieve those dreams.
The 36-year-old Australian has nine career wins, 37 podiums and 953.5 points in 209 races since beginning his F1 journey back in 2002.
Ricciardo is an up-and-coming driver with 21 career points and a ton of potential. The 24-year-old is also a native of Australia and has been driving for the Scuderia Toro Rosso since the start of the 2012 season.
Is Red Bull Racing making a smart decision?
Allen notes that big changes could be on the horizon across the sport, with Raikkonen close to finalizing plans with Lotus and Antonio Felix da Costa set to replace Ricciardo at Toro Rosso.
Regardless of what happens, Ricciardo has big shoes to fill at Red Bull Racing and will need to start winning almost immediately to prove that he’s the right person for the job.
There are big expectations on the young man and it will be quite interesting to see if he can rise to the challenge of meeting them.