Red Bull needs to make a lot of progress in 2018 if they want to persuade him to stay after the current contract ends says, Daniel Ricciardo.
Ricciardo is contracted to Red Bull until the end of next season and knows that his next deal can be the pathway towards his first F1 championship.
Ferrari and Mercedes both have an eye on the Australian for a long term deal.
Talking with Motorsport during his promotional presence at ‘Ricciardo Kart venture’, Ricciardo said getting a car competitive enough to win the title is all that mattered to him. And the wait for such a car is making him impatient.
“I went through that impatient phase for sure, and I am still bordering that – because I don’t want to leave F1 without a championship,” said Ricciardo.
“At least right now, I still believe I can do that absolutely. I am looking for it – sooner rather than later.
“I thought we would be in with a really good shot this year, but it hasn’t turned out like that. We have still managed to get podiums but we haven’t realistically been in the championship hunt so it really needs to happen with Red Bull next year – at least from my point of view.
“I’ve been here for quite a few years now and I think next year we need to make a bigger step next year than we did this year, to really convince me that I can win with them.
“Do I want to win with them? Absolutely. I think that would complete the story as well. Seb [Vettel] got to complete it – he is the only guy. So my heart would love to. But we will see.
“I want an opportunity to be able to win week in and week out, while I believe I am still at the top.”
It is believed that Ricciardo’s availability for the 2019 season has made both the big teams, Mercedes and Ferrari to keep an open spot by handing out short contracts to one of their drivers.
Kimi Räikkönen got a one-year extension from Ferrari for next season while Mercedes is yet to hand out an extension for Valtteri Bottas.
This will be the first time in Ricciardo career that he has an option to do what he wants after 2018. Until now all his moves have been guided by Red Bull.
He said “I think whatever I choose to do next, let’s say I have got decisions to make once my Red Bull contract is up,”
“It is the first time in my professional career that I’ve been a free agent – it is something I’ve never really had before. I’ve been with Red Bull since the start and it has been awesome and all that.
“But it is up to them as well if they would want to continue, and then it is a decision where I think it will be best.”
He added: “The next contract I sign, whether it is an extension or a new one, it is unlikely to be for just one year, it is probably three years. So that is a big part of the next step in my career.
“For sure it is something I will put a lot of thought in to. But at the end of the day, I want to be somewhere where I can have a good chance of success and winning, but it is an environment I want to enjoy as well.
“A big part of my success is that I have fun doing this sport. I feel like not everyone is having as much fun as they should, so that is important for me.”
Red Bull’s other driver Max Verstappen is also on wish lists of many teams. His contract is due to end by 2019. It will be interesting to see who moves where next year. And who will continue to hold out a racing seat for the youngster.