Although Red Bull Racing has said it wants to retain both its drivers at least through 2020, Daniel Ricciardo isn’t in a rush to sign on the dotted line.
Ricciardo said Monday that, because he’s confident in his ability to become Formula One world champion, delaying his contract negotiations with Red Bull is worth the risk, according to RACER. The 28-year-old has been part of the Red Bull family his entire career, but said in September the team needs to “convince” him they can fight for titles together to get him to extend his contract beyond 2018.
Team principal Christian Horner has repeatedly stated his belief that Ricciardo and Max Verstappen represent the best driver pairing in F1, and his intent to hang onto them. Verstappen already re-upped with Red Bull through 2020 in October, which caught Ricciardo off guard, but the Aussie said it wouldn’t influence his strategy.
“Yeah, I’m aware as well that there’s always a risk,” Ricciardo said. “The longer you leave it, then if you’re not performing, you’re looking less and less desirable race by race. But that’s where I’ve obviously got confidence in my approach and what I’m going to do — and I’ve got confidence that I will be performing.”
Heading into his seventh full season in F1, Ricciardo admits that each year feels increasingly important.
Given that Ricciardo has proven himself as one of the best wheel-to-wheel racers in the sport, he has no doubt he can get the job done. That said, however, he joined Red Bull expecting it to continue being one of the dominant F1 teams, but it instead has only occasionally challenged for race wins.
“So each year does tick by, but as far as my performance side goes, I’m not worried,” Ricciardo told RACER. “It’s more that I want to be world champion before I’ve got gray hair.”
With Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen’s futures at Mercedes-AMG Petronas and Scuderia Ferrari, respectively, uncertain after 2018, Red Bull likely won’t be the only team making Ricciardo an offer. But the “Honey Badger” presumably would be more inclined to join Mercedes, as he’s said he would want to have Lewis Hamilton as a teammate.
Plus, Sebastian Vettel probably would be opposed to Ferrari signing the driver who thoroughly embarrassed him when they were teammates in 2014 at Red Bull.
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