Red Bull is prepared to wait until the start of next year for Daniel Ricciardo to make his mind up about his Formula 1 future – if it means doing so will allow the team to keep the Australian for another two years.
With Max Verstappen having recently agreed a contract extension, Red Bull has been clear that it wants to lock down Ricciardo until the end of 2020 too.
Red Bull would like to sort the matter out before the end of this year, but Ricciardo wants to wait until the racing is underway in 2018 – so he has a better idea of what each team offers.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner has held talks with Ricciardo to make clear that the team wants him to remain on board, but says he understands why the Australian is in no rush to finalise his plans.
"The next move that he makes at 28 years of age is a very important one for him, so I am sure he is going to take the time to make sure that the decision is right for him," said Horner.
"But he knows the intention very clearly – I've discussed it with him. We want him in the team, and if that takes another six months, then so be it."
He added: "He enjoys being within the team and he sees the quality and capability in the team.
"He knows how we go about our racing, and how we treat the two drivers – which he is extremely comfortable and happy with. I think he is keen to see what engine performance looks like next year, which is understandable.
"Obviously I would like to have it done sooner, but if it takes six months for the same result, then so be it."
Horner is well aware that, with Ricciardo a free agent at the end of 2018, the Aussie can get signed up by a rival team without him having any say.
But Red Bull is relaxed about the situation because it has Carlos Sainz available if it wants to pull him back from Renault.
"That is why we kept Carlos Sainz on loan, and that is why we have options around us," he said. "We have a safety net but our number one objective is to retain the pairing that we have."
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