[F1 2018 VIDEO FEATURE] DANIEL RICCIARDO: 2019 OPTIONS

Daniel Ricciardo’s form this year ensures that he’s at the forefront of the 2019 Formula 1 driver market, with the Red Bull Racing driver’s Monaco win yet another example of his supreme talent.

But the 28-year-old’s options are narrowing the longer he waits. 

At Ferrari, Kimi Räikkönen is back on form, making a driver change somewhat unnecessary at the Prancing Horse.

… given the importance of stability in building momentum – and Sebastian Vettel’s alleged contracted number one status.

While over at Mercedes, head of motorsport Toto Wolff is insistent its next driver choice will come from within the Silver Arrows stable.

“We are not looking at drivers outside of Mercedes at the moment,” Wolff said in early May. “It's like if you're happy with your wife, you don't look elsewhere!”

Of course, it could all be a Red Herring designed to deflect attention from closed door negotiations… 

But, while time is of the essence for Ricciardo to chat with Mercedes and Ferrari – the Australian’s main option, to extend with Red Bull Racing, will need to wait until the Canadian Grand Prix at least… 

… when his squad is set to make its critical power unit decision for 2019 and beyond, on whether to remain with Renault or jump to Japanese rival Honda – with both manufacturers likely providing upgrades in Montreal for a clear performance comparison.

It’s a difficult choice either way, and one his teammate Max Verstappen is locked in to until the end of 2020. 

SOUNDBITE (English) MAX VERSTAPPEN,
F1 DRIVER, RED BULL RACING:
"I believe in the team, that's why I signed with them and I believe that they can build the best car out there. We just now need to have the right package.”

And the right package for winning right now is a Mercedes or Ferrari – but if Ricciardo cannot negotiate his way in to either of those seats on the proviso of equal status, staying at Red Bull is his best bet.

…  despite 2018 turning out to be another roller coaster campaign for the 28-year-old, his seventh full season in F1.

Ricciardo, though, has the right mentality in making doors open with his performance race-by-race.

SOUNDBITE (English) DANIEL RICCIARDO,
F1 DRIVER, RED BULL RACING:
“I'm not in any rush, but also I think the results at the end of the day will do the talking. For any of us who are out of contract, I think the person who is going to be in the hot seat is not who necessarily who does the best negotiating, but does the results on track.”

China was a great showcase of his prodigious talent, Ricciardo using a perfectly timed pit stop under the safety car and a fresh set of soft tyres, to pass five cars in eight laps for the lead and win.

SOUNDBITE (English) DANIEL RICCIARDO,
F1 DRIVER, RED BULL RACING:
“Crossing the line in first, absolutely that was…I'm very very proud of this trophy. I think the team should be very proud of it as well.”

The next race in Azerbaijan, though, was certainly one to forget – with the Australian plowing into Verstappen, after he moved twice in defence. The pair overstepping the mark, for which they were reprimanded by the FIA and Red Bull. It didn’t dim Ricciardo’s spirit, however.

SOUNDBITE (English) DANIEL RICCIARDO
F1 DRIVER, RED BULL RACING:
“I don't want to crash but I want to race.”

Ricciardo took fifth in Spain, while in Monaco he was in another league – dominating the weekend, before nursing an MGU-K failure in the race for his second win of 2018. But Canada ahead will be a far different picture, with Red Bull likely to have a power deficit.

So the Australian’s next move is critical, and now is the time to find out if F1’s two top manufacturer teams are really interested. It’s all on the line for Ricciardo.