Mateschitz: both our drivers were approached by Mercedes

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Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz said that Nico Rosberg's retirement encouraged Mercedes to initiate discussions with Red Bull over the availability of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.

Rosberg's shock surprise departure from F1 after winning the world title left the German manufacturer with a seat to fill alongside Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes was not keen on promoting protรฉgรฉ Pascal Wehrlein, so it examined other potential opportunities involving leading drivers on the grid.

Eventually, it settled for Valtteri Bottas following negotiations with Williams.

"It was discussed between Helmut Marko and Niki Lauda," Mateschitz told Speedweek,

"But not seriously as everyone knew that our drivers would not be available. No one came to me and asked for a release."

The low-profile Austrian billionaire said he was perfectly happy with Red Bull's current line-up while keeping an eye on its junior bulls.

"Carlos Sainz has developed strongly, while with Daniil Kvyat, we are guilty of relying on him too much.

"Pierre Gasly will work as a junior substitute driver and work a lot in the simulator."

Mateschitz also expressed his satisfaction with the work and progress accomplished by Renault on its power unit front, and is confident the French manufacturer can help Red Bull bridge the gap with Mercedes.

"Renault brought new, ambitious and above all competent people on board for 2016, and there was much progress with (Mario) Illien," Mateschitz said.

"I expect for 2017 that we will get the power to get closer to Mercedes. We want to be absolutely competitive and to attack Mercedes with victories."

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