Daniel Ricciardo has said that Red Bull Racing will have to make a big step forward in performance in 2018 to convince him to stay after his current contract with the team ends.
Ricciardo made his Formula 1 debut in 2011 for HRT before being placed at Toro Rosso for 2012 and 2013. After impressing at Red Bull’s junior team and following the retirement of Mark Webber, the Australian was promoted to a race seat at the senior team for 2014 and remains committed to the team until the end of next season.
Having recently been linked to a drive at Mercedes and Ferrai in the long term, it is clear that Ricciardo will be a target for a number of teams for 2019 as he searches for his maiden world championship.
“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,” Ricciardo told Motorsport.com.
“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.”
As Ricciardo could be a free agent for 2019, his availability could be an influencing factor in Ferrari and Mercedes only committing to Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas for one season.
“I think whatever I choose to do next, let’s say I have got decisions to make once my Red Bull contract is up,” said Ricciardo, with 2018 offering him a free choice of what he can do for the first time in his career.
“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.
“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,” he added.
“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.”