Ricciardo has much to ponder as he considers Red Bull future

From left, Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, and Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia share a light moment during a news conference at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017. The Emirates Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Daniel Ricciardo's season ended with him trundling off the track during Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as a hydraulic failure causing a third retirement in four races. It was a frustrating finale to a topsy-turvy year that saw him finish fifth overall.

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Daniel Ricciardo's season ended with him trundling off the track during Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, a hydraulic failure causing a third retirement in four races.

It was a frustrating finale to a topsy-turvy year that saw him finish fifth in the Formula One standings, and included a purple patch of five straight podium finishes between May and July.

Away from the track, the 28-year-old Australian has a lot of thinking to do over his future at Red Bull.

His contract expires at the end of 2018. Teammate Max Verstappen recently signed a new deal until the end of 2020, but Ricciardo has yet to commit even though the team wants him to stay.

"The peak years of my career are probably the next deal I'll sign," he said. "I want to make sure I maximize that with my driving ability."

Ricciardo has won five races, all since joining Red Bull in 2014. That year, he won three races and finished a very impressive third overall.

He was considerably better than Sebastian Vettel, his teammate back then, who had clinched his fourth straight world title in 2013.

But now Verstappen is emerging as the team's No. 1, and widely considered F1's next star.

Verstappen turned 20 in September, but has already won three F1 races — two in the last six races of this season. Ricciardo has 27 career podiums while Verstappen — the youngest winner of a race at 18 years old — already has 11.

Verstappen hefty new contract shows how valuable the Dutchman is, even though the team has not officially designated a No. 1 driver.

This puts Ricciardo is in a delicate position.

Given his considerable talent and consistency, he does not want to spend the next three years as — potentially — a No. 2 behind Verstappen. It would possibly cause tension within the team and pressure a relationship that is harmonious enough, despite some flashpoints.

"I'm sure there will be a few discussions in the next week or two, especially with the team," Ricciardo said. "It's not about the offer, it's about who is going to have the best car for 2019."

Ricciardo, who won the Azerbaijan GP in June, has given himself a loose timescale.

"Once I get home and over Christmas, I want to switch off from racing," he said. "I would like to know something earlier."

He has the luxury of being an established driver at Red Bull, so a move away comes with risk.

"I don't want to be too clever and hope I have every option possible," said Ricciardo, who expects his next deal to be "a multiple-year."

One possibility could be waiting to see what happens at Ferrari and Mercedes.

Kimi Raikkonen will be 39 at the end of next season and unlikely to get another year with Ferrari. He was fourth in the standings but the Finnish driver was 100 points behind Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas and 112 points behind his own teammate Vettel, second overall.

Bottas has a one-year deal with Mercedes for next season, alongside world champion Lewis Hamilton.

If Bottas fails to impress, there could be an opening in 2019.

On either team, Ricciardo would be up against four-time F1 champions in Hamilton and Vettel, and would not be the leading driver.

When he sat alongside them both at a pre-race news conference last Thursday, Ricciardo joked that the three of them shared eight F1 titles between them. Clearly, he dreams of belonging in such elite company.

But, for now, perhaps challenging Verstappen is his best option.

"It would be a good problem to have, if we're both fighting at the front and having some battles," Ricciardo said. "If it's ultimately deciding a world title we would happily run with that challenge."

But Red Bull's marked increase in speed is a cause for optimism next year — providing Red Bull can iron out reliability issues that saw Ricciardo fail to finish six races and Verstappen seven.

"I believe next year we will close the gap. Is it enough to fight for a title?" Ricciardo said. "I think we can certainly get close."

Related News

Salah sends Egypt to World Cup for 1st time since...

Oct 8, 2017

Egypt has qualified for next year's World Cup in Russia by beating Republic of Congo 2-1 at home

Egypt has a new hero: Liverpool striker Mohammed...

Oct 9, 2017

Liverpool striker Mohammed Salah scored a pair of goals to send Egypt to the World Cup in Russia

Calls for exiled player to go to WCup stirs storm...

Oct 17, 2017

A social media campaign to persuade former star midfielder Mohamed Aboutrika to come out of...

Egyptian daily to World Cup fans: Beware of...

Oct 18, 2017

Cairo daily counsels Egyptian soccer fans traveling to the World Cup to lower their expectations...

Salah's success offers hope in Egypt to fans and...

Jan 4, 2018

Success of Liverpool star Mohamed Salah offers hope in Egypt to fans and authorities

India could have worst Olympic performance since...

Aug 17, 2016

Indian officials, who vowed a strong showing at the Rio Games after years of dismal Olympic...

You may also like these

India welcomes back Sindhu after rare medal in Rio

Aug 22, 2016

P.V. Sindhu, the 21-year-old badminton player who won one of India's two medals at the Rio de...

India wins by 5 runs to level T20 series vs...

Jan 29, 2017

India won the second Twenty20 international by five runs to stay alive in the three-match series...

England win toss and opt to bowl in 3rd T20

Feb 1, 2017

England won the toss and opted to bowl in the third and final Twenty20 against India in Bangalore

Kohli leads record-setting 2nd day against...

Feb 10, 2017

Virat Kohli struck his fourth double century as India declared on 687-6 and demoralized Bangladesh...

India aiming to bounce back from poor showing in...

Mar 2, 2017

It is little wonder the Indian batsmen such as Murali Vijay want to start all over again after two...

About Us

We’re all about evolving the love of sports. With The Sport Ship, you can up your game and receive all the latest news about the sports world before anyone else.

Contact us: sales@thesportship.com

Subscribe Now!