Red Bull is keen to agree a new contract with Daniel Ricciardo but “won’t wait around forever” for the Australian to decide his future, according to team principal Christian Horner.
Ricciardo is out of contract at the end of next season after what will have been his fifth year with the team since stepping up from Toro Rosso. Getting the better of Sebastian Vettel in his first season at Red Bull, Ricciardo has won five races for the team and only failed to finish ahead of his teammate when Daniil Kvyat beat him by three points during a disappointing 2015 season that saw the pair finish seventh and eighth respectively.
With Ricciardo keen to analyze which team is likely to be his most competitive option beyond next year, Horner told RACER there may come a point where Red Bull takes the decision out of the 28-year-old’s hands.
“I think Daniel knows what our strengths are and hopefully we’ll be in a reasonable position,” Horner said of keeping hold of Ricciardo.
“I think he’s at a stage in his career where he’s wanting to evaluate all of his options, which you can understand. The problem is we won’t wait around forever and we’ve got some very good options available to us, but our priority is to try and ensure we find a solution with Daniel.”
Asked if contract negotiations will be a priority for the team over the winter or if he envisages the situation taking longer to resolve, Horner replied: “I get the impression he’ll want to see relative engine performances next year. He’s had four years of frustration on that side of things, so I can understand him wanting to see how things are panning out.”
Max Verstappen is under contract at Red Bull until the end of the 2020 season, while Carlos Sainz has been loaned to Renault for next year but remains part of the Red Bull driver program, with the Spaniard the most likely replacement should Ricciardo decide to move elsewhere.