Daniel Ricciardo says he found it difficult and frustrating to work out which teams had a genuine interest in signing him while he weighed his options in the driver market this year.
In August, Ricciardo's shock move to Renault for 2019 was confirmed. It followed several months of the Australian driver considering offers from various teams in the paddock, although the consensus was that he would sign an extension to remain with Red Bull.
Ricciardo eventually picked Renault's offer over those of Red Bull and McLaren. While most believed that his options at Ferrari and Mercedes had closed up earlier in the year, ESPN understands he was still waiting on an answer from the latter ahead of the German Grand Prix as Toto Wolff dithered over whether to extend Valtteri Bottas' stint with the team.
Mercedes was unwilling to consider a multiyear deal for Ricciardo and confirmed Bottas' extension in Germany.
When asked about that process and the uncertainty around a Mercedes seat, Ricciardo told ESPN: "I knew talks would take a bit of time probably and again, trying to feel each other out, but it got to June/July and maybe we had spoken a few times and we hadn't really got anywhere, so if you want me tell me otherwise, I will move on -- that's cool.
"I guess it gets to the point like that with everyone where you want a black or white answer and that's it. I guess the games can wear a little thin.
"I don't even know if it's games, but circling around the edges, it's like -- just go straight in! But these are all things I will learn, and I am sure there will be another time in my career where I will need to go through this process again. I am sure there's things I will do differently. I don't necessarily have any regrets, it's all just a learning process."
This year was Ricciardo's first foray into the driver market, having been locked in to Red Bull deals previously.
"Look, part of it was fun for sure, and part of it was exciting having these little meetings. I guess it was all new to me. I guess just hearing them out and before a meeting, maybe like 'Oh, what's going to get talked about and how deep is it going to go'. The process and all that was exciting for sure.
"I guess on one hand I had teams that really wanted me, and then on the other there were teams that were kind of half the foot in the door but not really... so Mercedes and that. At times it was confusing for sure, and obviously you're trying to figure out what is real and what isn't, who's genuine and who is not. Again, that was exciting, but it does keep the mind ticking a little bit."