Where will Ricciardo go next?

The next contract that Daniel Ricciardo signs will “make or break” his chance of winning the world champion title, says the ever-smiling Australian driver.

Ricciardo’s teammate Max Verstappen signed a renegotiated contract that bumped up his salary and extended his deal until 2020. While Red Bull is eager to lock down the Aussie in a long-term contract, he prefers to look at the options available to him before he signs on the dotted line.

2019 is expected to be a big driver market as many driver contracts will run out by then. Both the top teams, Mercedes and Ferrari have a vacant seat for 2019 and have an interest in signing the Australian driver.

This year will be Ricciardo’s seventh season in F1 and for the first time in his racing career, he will have the opportunity to choose his next team. At 28, he feels the next step he takes will be the biggest decision in his career.

Speaking with Motorsport, Ricciardo 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.”

Ricciardo is clear that his next contract will be a long-term one, be it with Red Bull or another team.

“I doubt I’ll sign a one-year deal somewhere,” said Ricciardo.

“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.”

The Aussie driver debuted in F1 at the tail end of the grid, with HRT in mid-2011. He then got a seat at Toro Rosso where he spent two years before getting promoted to the senior team in 2014.

“I’ve been dealing with [Red Bull motorsport advisor] Helmut Marko for 10 years now. Certainly I feel like part of the family,” Ricciardo added.

“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.”

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