Daniel Ricciardo on his F1 value and 'second-biggest' decision of career
Decision time looming for Australian driver for 2019 and beyond
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 10/12/18 1:21pm
Daniel Ricciardo says he wants his 2019 F1 contract to match the "value" he believes he has attained in the sport during his eight seasons on the grid.
The Australian said at the French GP that he expects talks over his Red Bull future to ramp up over the next fortnight, heading into two race weekends in Austria and Britain which are considered 'home' events for the team.
While the prospect of Ricciardo switching to either Mercedes or Ferrari when his contract expires in Red Bull appears to have receded, reports last week claimed McLaren had offered him a big-money deal to join them should Fernando Alonso leave.
Ricciardo says contesting for world titles is his overriding priority for 2019 and beyond - but also wants his achievements to date to be recognised in his next deal.
"I said it from the start, the priority is to try and get a car that can win a world title because I really believe I can. So that's the first thing in my mind," he said.
"If there was absolutely no possibility then you look into other things, but I think as a driver I think I've done enough now… even Lewis [Hamilton] touched on it, and I didn't even need to really say it, your value as a driver is not 'X' amount of money it's just what you feel your value is and what you bring to the sport.
"I feel I hold a certain value so I just want to at least match that with my expectations and what also people value me as."
Ricciardo turns 29 on Sunday and while he has won seven grands prix and sits third in this year's world championship, he has yet to truly contend for a world title.
Asked if he feared taking a step back with his eventual 2019 move, the Australian replied: "If I don't win a title and whether I'm coming third or fifth, it's probably no different to having a step back.
"The only way my career takes a step back is if I stop performing. Obviously if I just came off three world titles and gone to a team that's only coming fifth, that's probably a step back.
"But because I've been floating around that top three, top five mark for the last few years, there's probably not really a step to take back unless I stop performing.
"So I don't really fear that, for me there's only something to gain, I've just got to figure out what place that is to make that gain."
Having been contracted to Red Bull since the age of 18, Ricciardo has spoken of the importance of getting the next deal of his career right and admits the decision will represent the "second-most difficult" he has experienced.
"The most difficult was leaving Australia and actually going to Europe when I still didn't know what my talent was," he said. "I didn't really believe that I was good enough, so that was probably a trickier decision.
"So this will probably be the second-biggest - it's big enough!"