Christian Horner hints at Red Bull-Aston Martin engine deal


Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull Racing have emerged as the force to beat at the Singapore Grand Prix while pre-weekend favourite Ferrari struggled for pace.

Teammate Max Verstappen, who ended the day in second but was more than half a second adrift of Ricciardo, was likewise in good spirits.

In contrast, Hamilton's title rival Sebastian Vettel was just 11th, but his result is somewhat skewed given that he failed to post a fast lap on the ultrasoft tyre, the quickest of the three compounds available. "We know we have to perform here, this is our track, and we'll try to make the most of it".

"I'm sure it will tighten up tomorrow but I still expect we will be able to stay where we are", said Ricciardo, who has finished second in Singapore for the past two years with the fastest race lap on both occasions.

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Singapore is like Monaco and Hungary in that it is a hard-braking track which is tough to overtake on, and more suited to Ferrari and Red Bull than Mercedes.

Red Bull threatened to run away with the weekend after dominating Friday's running but their P3 advantage over Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was less than a tenth, with Lewis Hamilton also close behind in third for Mercedes.

But aside from the dominant Red Bulls, Hamilton was half-a-second clear of his fourth-placed Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, and seemingly in with a chance of retaining his championship lead over Vettel.

Said the German: "We're not yet where we want to be (but) today's Friday, we tried various options, different tyres".

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But now Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner says that someone else is interested in supplying them with engines-a manufacturer they already have ties with who should be obvious, which clearly hints that it's Aston Martin. "I knew we'd come here with a good vehicle, I feel prepared, so I'm not surprised with our performance today". The Spaniard will partner Nico Hulkenberg at the team, leaving Jolyon Palmer now without a driver for next season.

"I expected this, to be honest", Ricciardo said.

Asked about the reports of Renault's move, the Briton told the BBC: "I think anything after 2018 at the moment is purely speculation".

McLaren will switch to Renault engines starting next season while Honda will partner with Red Bullowned Toro Rosso, who are now powered by the French manufacturer.

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McLaren, after enduring three years of underperformance with Honda, will switch to Renault in 2018, while Toro Rosso will throw its lot in with Honda from next season.