through the race, with the victory proving that the team are capable of beating Mercedes and Ferrari this season.
But the victory alone will not be enough to convince Ricciardo to stay at Red Bull beyond the end of the season. The 28-year-old is out of contract at the end of the year and has been strongly linked with a move to Ferrari to replace Kimi Raikkonen, while both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are in the final year of their respective deals with Mercedes.
“I want to be with the best car; I think the weekend proved if I got the opportunity I can pull it off,” Ricciardo said. “If we can win a few more now with Red Bull,
that looks very attractive. If not, there’s probably other options.”
Ricciardo graduated from Toro Rosso to Red Bull to replace Sebastian Vettel in 2014, just as their dominance on the sport ended and Mercedes’ began, and much of his frustration has stemmed from the fact that they have been unable to challenge for the title with their Renault engines.
A move to Ferrari could well suit Ricciardo, not least because it was the Italian manufacturer who took victory in the opening two races of the season, and he would be replacing a driver in Raikkonen who has not stood on the top step of the podium in more than five years.
But any such move would likely have to be signed off by the team’s No 1 driver in Vettel, and Ricciardo also has his own doubts about making such a move given that Ferrari have hinted at withdrawing from the sport if the future engine regulations – due to be implemented from the start of the 2021 season – do not meet their plans, and whatever direction F1 heads in may not meet his own.
“I don’t want to sign anything too long because I don’t know where the sport’s going,” Ricciardo added. “I feel like life is happening pretty fast. Each year something might change so I don’t want to tie myself down for four more years and then I’m like, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore’.
“Ideally I’d sign a two-year contract. I think two years I can definitely be comfortable with and then see it from there. That third year will be the rule change so I
will probably wait and see what happens then.”
But he did also clarify that there has been no contact from the Prancing Horse and that if Red Bull prove they can consistently challenge for race victories and
championships, then he will stay with the team for the foreseeable future – with next weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku proving crucial to their chances this season.
“I kind of feel like if they want me to race for them they should contact me, but they haven’t,” he said. “If we win this year then I’m staying with Red Bull. It’s
pretty simple. It’s really just about performance at the moment.”
He added: “I think it’s still too early to say yes. We won at the weekend but we need to win regularly to kind of show that. If we come out and win again in two weeks in Baku then I’ll probably say yes.”