Upgrade for free today
You have only 5 articles remaining to view this month.
Daniel Ricciardo should focus on beating Max Verstappen rather than worrying about which Formula 1 team he will drive for in 2019, says former Red Bull Racing driver Mark Webber.
Ricciardo is currently at a career crossroad, with his current Red Bull deal set to expire at the end of this season and potential openings at Mercedes and Ferrari for 2019.
While Ricciardo admits there is pressure to get his next move right, fellow Australian Webber reckons he should not think about which team he wants to sign for until the middle of the season.
LAWRENCE BARRETTO: Mercedes should sign Ricciardo
Webber says Ricciardo should instead focus solely on beating Verstappen, and let that determine what is on the table for 2019.
“I think the best thing he can do is beat Max,” said Webber during a trip to the Bathurst 12 Hour with Porsche. “Which he knows, and he’s going to do his best to do that.
“He wants to try and have a crack at that for five or six months, then look at the options.
“I don’t think Mercedes will be rushing to make a decision either; they’re going to keep a good eye on Valtteri [Bottas] and see how he’s performing, probably until Canada. That’s like dog’s balls – everyone can see that coming.
“There’s an obvious link – they’re both out of contract, he’s a top-flight driver, and there’s a chance for a switch.
“But if he’s beating Max and Red Bull are flying again, why would he leave?
“At the end of the day, I don’t think Dan’s too bothered what colour the car is. He just wants to win. That’s what he’s aiming to do, and it’s hard to win consistently. They don’t hand them out.
“He’s totally capable of it, but he’s just got to find himself in a position where he can get that opportunity.”
Ricciardo can rise above Red Bull politics
Having been caught in the middle of a bitter political feud with Sebastian Vettel (pictured colliding in the 2010 Turkish GP) during his own Red Bull career, Webber is confident that there is no danger of Ricciardo falling into a similar trap.
Webber says the fact that Ricciardo is a genuine product of the Red Bull system means he can be sure of full support from Helmut Marko, despite Verstappen getting a new RBR deal early.
“Red Bull will support the guy that’s leading the championship and doing the business,” added Webber, who joined Red Bull’s F1 team after stints at Minardi, Jaguar and Williams rather than being supported by the firm in junior racing as most of its subsequent signings were.
“If that’s Daniel, I reckon he’s still in great shape there, to be honest. Because he is a Red Bull product.
“I don’t think Helmut would be disappointed to see Daniel as world champion, but he loves Max as well. They’re both his favourite guys.
“And where does Carlos [Sainz Jr] fit in all of that? He loves Carlos as well. That’s a question for Helmut.”