Daniel Ricciardo’s F1 future could be “make or break” in terms of his chances of winning a world championship in his career. While teammate Max Verstappen’s deal in late 2017 was extended, Ricciardo was granted time to assess his options post 2018. 2018 is the year where most top drivers’ contracts expire and substantial movement in the driver market is predicted. The 28-year old is set to begin his seventh full season in F1. Now, Ricciardo believes that he is facing the most important decision of his career.
He said, “I’ve still got years in this sport, but I’m not 23/24 anymore. I’m still learning. I don’t feel I’m past my peak. The next contract I sign or next extension I do, they are potentially the peak years of my career. That next bit of paper I sign could make or break my desire in terms of whether I can fight for a title or not. That’s why I’m taking my time, I want to see where everyone is at. Maybe I’ll have more options, maybe I won’t.”
He stressed on the need for his next contract to be long-term. It didn’t matter if it was with Red Bull or elsewhere. The Australian said, “I doubt I’ll sign a one-year deal somewhere. It’s probably going to be a multiple year deal, two or more, so I need to make sure it’s the right place, competitively.”
Ricciardo has been in the Red Bull family for his entire F1 career and they also supported his junior career. Red Bull’s influence saw him debut with tail-ender HRT in mid-2011. Following that, he moved to Toro Rosso for two seasons before graduating to the senior Red Bull team in 2014.
He said, “I’ve been dealing with [Red Bull motorsport advisor] Helmut Marko for 10 years now. Certainly I feel like part of the family. Even in Austria, Tom Uberoll [Red Bull motorsports manager], him as well, since 2008. I’ve still got relationships outside of the Red Bull Racing team, and that’s cool. Whether I was to stay at Red Bull the rest of my career, or eventually move on, I would still keep close to a lot of the people within the family. It’s been a big part of my life, I’d never walk away from it and think ‘OK, that’s the past’, and completely forget about it.”