Daniel Ricciardo admits his new Red Bull contract is taking a little longer than expected to finalize, but is adamant it will be signed by the Belgian Grand Prix.
Out of contract at the end of this season, Ricciardo wanted to analyze Red Bull’s plans from 2019 onwards, as well as seeing if options opened up at Mercedes and Ferrari, before recommitting. With Mercedes having since signed both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to new deals and Red Bull securing a switch to Honda power units, team principal Christian Horner and Ricciardo had both suggested a new contract would be agreed by the summer break.
However, when asked at this week’s Budapest test if the contract situation has proven more complicated than expected, Ricciardo replied: “Did it look simple?
“I was just making it up so you guys would stop asking me. It’ll definitely be done by Spa, so whether it gets announced over the break or at Spa, but it’s just a little bit of fine-tuning. It’s all good. You will hear something soon, I’m sure.
“I honestly still don’t know [when it will be signed], but probably over the break when we will talk it out and it will happen then.”
Ricciardo’s first part of the season ended with a day of testing in Budapest on Tuesday, and although keen for a break, he says it was important he remained committed for the team’s benefit.
“I’ve been driving F1 cars long enough that it’s just… I wouldn’t say it gets me too excited, but we did some good work. I’m obviously aware that the more committed I am to the testing the more we can learn from that point of view, so from that side I obviously treat it as work and business. But am I driving around with the biggest smile on my face? No, I get a bigger smile on Sundays.”
Those comments came after Ricciardo admitted last weekend that the lack of a victory in the run of five races in six weeks had left him feeling the need to get away from F1 for a spell.
“It will be a good time for the break,” he said. “I need some time away from the car; I am growing frustrated with these problems. Probably healthy for me as well to have a bit of time off.”