Daniel Ricciardo says Red Bull needs to make a big step forward next season to convince him to stay with team in Formula 1 beyond 2018.
The Australian has driven for Red Bull’s senior team since being promoted from Toro Rosso for the 2014 season, and his current deal runs until the end of next year.
Having been linked with both Mercedes and Ferrari longer term, Ricciardo will likely be a key target for several teams after next year – although he has suggested that his ideal scenario would be to win the title for his current employers.
Ricciardo has won five grands prix with Red Bull, including three in his first season as team-mate to four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, but Red Bull’s engine supplier Renault has been third-best behind Mercedes and Ferrari in the turbo-hybrid era.
“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 Autosport at an event promoting his Ricciardo Kart venture.
“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.
“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.”
Red Bull backed Ricciardo throughout junior single-seaters and he made his F1 debut after being placed at the HRT team mid-way through the 2011 season.
At Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen is only on a one-year deal until the end of 2018, while Mercedes has yet to commit to Valtteri Bottas beyond the end of this year. So, there are many chances waiting for him.
Ricciardo said the option for him to move after 2018 was something new for him, as it would be the first time in his F1 career that he had a free choice of what to do – having had his career guided by Red Bull up until now.
“I think whatever I choose to do next, let’s say I have got decisions to make once my Red Bull contract is up,” he said.
“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.”
He added: “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.
“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.”