F1 gossip: Ricciardo, Verstappen, Webber, Wolff

Wednesday, 22 March

Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen
Daniel Ricciardo finished behind champion Nico Rosberg and runner-up Lewis Hamilton last year and says Mercedes are still favourites for the 2017 title

Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo, 27, does not expect to be challenging for the Formula 1 title this season as he believes Mercedes still hold the edge. (Daily Mail)

But Australian Ricciardo says he is prepared for friction with teenage team-mate Max Verstappen, 19, as "that's part of the game". (Guardian)

Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley says hopes of a top-three finish in the constructors' championship are already out of reach after pre-season testing suggested Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull were ahead of the pack. (Eurosport)

Lewis Hamilton could end up driving for Ferrari if Sebastian Vettel walks away from the team, according to former Red Bull driver Mark Webber. (Express)

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says Red Bull have "seen ghosts" if they think the Mercedes engine is breaking the rules over oil burning. Red Bull wrote to the FIA to clarify if the engine was using an illegal method during qualifying. (Gazzetta dello Sport, via Independent)

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Tuesday, 21 March

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel
Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda has denied a plan to try to sign Sebastian Vettel (pictured)

McLaren driver Fernando Alonso is braced for a "difficult weekend" at this week's season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. (Eurosport)

Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve says he is "normally not positive with young kids coming into F1" but is "very positive" concerning the prospects of fellow Canadian Lance Stroll, 18, as he embarks on his debut season in the sport with Williams. (Scotsman)

Paddy Lowe left Mercedes to join Williams as the team's chief technical officer and he believes "there are undoubtedly things here at Williams that are much better than they have in Mercedes already". (Autosport)

Valtteri Bottas has yet to win a race in F1 but, after his switch to Mercedes, hopes he can challenge team-mate Lewis Hamilton in fighting for the drivers' crown this year. (Independent)

Bottas has signed a one-year deal with Mercedes and the German team's non-executive chairman Niki Lauda says it "is not our plan" to try to sign Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel for the 2018 season. (Daily Star)

Finn Bottas took to the ice and got his skates on as prepared for the season-opener in Melbourne this weekend.

Valtteri Bottas on Twitter
Bottas enjoys time on the ice rink in the build-up to the Australian GP

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