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F1 2020: Daniel Ricciardo spoke to Ferrari before McLaren contract, Carlos Sainz

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Ferrari held talks with Daniel Ricciardo over replacing Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari before giving the dream drive to Carlos Sainz Jnr instead, the Australian has revealed.

Ricciardo has long been linked with Ferrari where many argue he would be a good fit given his racing talent and his family’s Italian heritage.

He first held talks with Ferrari in 2018 when he was coming off-contract at Red Bull — he signed with Renault instead — and contact between the two parties didn’t stop until now.

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F1 2020, news, Austria Grand Prix: Formula One ultimate guide, Daniel Ricciardo, drivers, schedule, how to watch

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Formula One starts its season in Austria this week, nearly four months later than planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic and against a very different backdrop — even if Lewis Hamilton’s targets remain the same.

The six-times world champion can equal Ferrari great Michael Schumacher’s record seven while his Mercedes team are bidding for an unprecedented seventh successive drivers’ and constructors’ title double.

Eight rounds, all in Europe and without spectators for the first time, feature on a provisional calendar but the sport still hopes to muster 15-18 races, even if that means several circuits hosting two each.

Read what you need to know about the season in our ultimate guide!

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F1 2020: Lewis Hamilton Mercedes contract demands stand between new deal

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Lewis Hamilton will reportedly demand almost AUD$1.4 million-a-week when he sits down at the negotiating table with Mercedes over the coming weeks.

The six-time world champion is expected to lay out demands for the improved terms with team boss Toto Wolff as his contract enters its final months, Sportsmail understands.

Hamilton held out on negotiations during the coronavirus shutdown but, with racing starting again this weekend, is ready to make his giant demands.

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Daniel Ricciardo and Renault set for highly awkward F1 2020 finish

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It was suggested to Daniel Ricciardo this week finishing the 2020 Formula One season with Renault after signing with McLaren for next season will be “like you’ve split with your partner and yet you have to continue to live in the same house together for the next six months”.

“That’s a pretty good analogy,” Ricciardo said. “From my side it’s like, OK, there’s still a ton of people within this organisation who are really happy to have me here and who are excited to see me drive a black and yellow race car.

“So obviously again, I’ll do it for myself because I want to compete and race but I still want to give back to them everything I signed up for.”

But F1 expert Martin Brundle fears it won’t be that easy as Sebastian Vettel, who is leaving Ferrari, and Carlos Sainz, who is leaving McLaren to replace Vettel, also prepare for awkward reunions with their current teams when the season starts in Austria this weekend.

“Intra-team politics are going to be a big story as it’s certainly unusual for teams to know before a season starts that one of their drivers is leaving,” he told Sky Sports.

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