Red Bull Willing to Wait on Ricciardo Until Next Season
Red Bull shows interest in retaining the talented Aussie, but will it be enough?
Red Bull made the move to solidify one part of its driver team for the future by signing Max Verstappen through 2020, and now, it's looking to do the same with Daniel Ricciardo. The Milton Keynes-based organization announced on Thursday that it is willing to wait until the start of 2018 to start contract talks with the 28-year old driver. Ricciardo noted previously that this was one of his stipulations as he looks to weigh his options when racing starts next season.
Team boss Christian Horner admitted that he has talked to Ricciardo about re-signing with the team throughout this season, and the Aussie explained that he isn't ready just yet. As he comes into his prime years for performance, Ricciardo is likely to entertain offers from other teams if they can trump what Red Bull puts on the table.
"The next move that he makes at 28 years of age is a very important one for him, so I am sure he is going to take the time to make sure that the decision is right for him," Horner told reporters. "But he knows the intention very clearly – I've discussed it with him. We want him in the team, and if that takes another six months, then so be it."
There was buzz that Mercedes and Ferrari could extend a hand to Ricciardo as each of them have an open seat for 2019. However, Maranello has locked in Sebastian Vettel for the next three seasons and Mercedes is expected to do the same with Hamilton. This could potentially make Ricciardo a support at either team, a role which the talented youngster likely isn't fond of.
"He knows how we go about our racing, and how we treat the two drivers – which he is extremely comfortable and happy with," Horner said. "I think he is keen to see what engine performance looks like next year, which is understandable."
Horner understands that if Ricciardo is not signed in the next year, he will be a free agent by the end of 2018. While this motivates Red Bull to work harder in the meantime, it has also come to terms that it's anyone's game at this point. Horner was sure to point out how that was a major deciding factor in keeping a contingent deal with Renault for Carlos Sainz.
"That is why we kept Carlos Sainz on loan, and that is why we have options around us," he explained. "We have a safety net but our number one objective is to retain the pairing that we have."