SAME LINE-UP: Red Bull retained the services of Daniel Ricciardo (pictured) and Max Verstappen for the 2017, 2018 Formula 1 seasons. Image: AP / The Canadian Press
Baku - Red Bull is confirming that it will field an unchanged driver lineup in 2017.
There had been increasing speculation that Daniel Ricciardo could be eyeing a move to Ferrari, which was music to the ears of Toro Rosso hopeful Carlos Sainz.
Spanish reports quoted Sainz as saying: "I'm here when Red Bull needs me."
Ricciardo staying put
But multiple international reports, including Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport, now report that Red Bull has extended Australian Ricciardo's contract for 2017 and 2018.
Dr Helmut Marko had told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport earlier in June: "Ricciardo will be with us until 2018, there is no doubt."
Team boss Christian Horner agreed that rumours Ricciardo's contract is ending are "wrong".
READ: Renault to supply Red Bull and Toro Rosso in 2017
Asked by Formula 1's official website if Red Bull will field Ricciardo alongside Max Verstappen in 2017, Horner answered: "Yes. But not just 2017!"
Gazzetta said an official announcement is expected soon, amid suggestions Ricciardo has secured a pay-increase that will see him earn €20-million over the next two years.
Red Bull targeting Mercedes in 2017
Marko, the architect of Red Bull's controversial driver programme, said he believes the team will be well placed to take on Mercedes for the 2017 title.
Marko told the latest edition of Germany's Sport Bild magazine: "Every time there were serious rule changes, Red Bull was in front.
"The rule changes, the expected performance increase from Renault, and especially our driver duo of Verstappen and Ricciardo will make us Mercedes' challenger in 2017."
Marko said he thinks Red Bull's driver pairing is better even than Mercedes', even though he insisted that is not a criticism of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Marko explained: "I'm just saying the Ricciardo and Verstappen will be better. Both are able to win the world title in the next two years."