Daniel Ricciardo is confident it is only a matter of time before he signs a new contract with Red Bull, but says he has yet to put pen to paper.
Red Bull has been keen to retain Ricciardo — who has won two races so far this season — but the Australian wanted to weigh up his options and understand the team’s future direction before making a decision. With a Honda partnership for the next two years now confirmed, Ricciardo is closer to finalizing his plans and says he expects to agree a new contract in the coming weeks.
Asked if he has signed a new deal, Ricciardo replied: “I haven’t yet. It will come. Still no pen on paper. I’m more confident it will get done before the August break, so I don’t think you will have to wait much longer. Just making sure.”
With the Honda deal representing a change in power unit supplier for Red Bull for the first time in 13 years, Ricciardo admits he needed convincing that the driving force was excitement about the Japanese manufacturer rather than disillusionment with current partner Renault.
“I have heard the team out more than once, and they’ve kind of given me the reasons. The important thing to understand for me why they have done it, is not just… it can’t just purely be on emotions, like it has gone to s**t with Renault and we are just doing it because we want to change.
“They have done their homework and believe that it is a good thing, not just an emotional decision. So yeah, they have done what they can to try and encourage me to make it happen.”
In the shorter term, Red Bull is seen as a title outsider having matched Mercedes and Ferrari in winning three races but failed to finish on five occasions, and Ricciardo believes it will be difficult to close the 50-point deficit to Sebastian Vettel this year.
“I think we will win again this year. We have a chance to win on some tracks, and some opportunities will arise, but I still don’t think we have the real pace every weekend to convince ourselves that we can be there. Max [Verstappen] and me are taking too many points away from each other! Lewis [Hamilton] and Seb are doing all the winning there.
“I still think we need to find a little bit to be there on more tracks. But we never showed signs of speed in Austria from Friday until Sunday. And sure Mercedes had their problems, but even so we thought on pace Ferrari should have made it easy on us from everything we’d seen. And it wasn’t really the case.
“So it is still unknown, which makes it exciting. Hopefully the ones we expect to be quick on, we are. If we come fifth and sixth in Budapest we are probably going to be pretty pissed off!
“From that we are doing pretty well considering we’ve only finished six out of nine. So we are doing all right. But doing all right is not enough to be there. Especially because we are not dominating every race.
“We need to finish more. Two were technical and one was the incident with Max. I’m very likely going to have a penalty in Germany, so the odds are against us but I still don’t think it is impossible. Still too long to go to say it is out.”