Ex-Formula 1 driver Mark Webber has urged compatriot Daniel Ricciardo to not let his focus slip on beating team-mate Max Verstappen with his short-term future still undecided.
Ricciardo’s current Red Bull deal expires at the end of this season, the Australian has opted to not rush into signing a new contract with the energy drinks company, with options on the table for his services in 2019.
Mercedes and Ferrari have both made it clear of their admiration for five-time grand prix winner Ricciardo, who contests his fifth season with Red Bull in 2018, with drivers Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen’s contracts also up at the end of the year.
Ricciardo has admitted his next contract is “make or break” as to whether he will be able to compete for a world championship while in his prime, but Webber believes he should solely focus on beating Verstappen rather than pondering his F1 future.
“I think the best thing he can do is beat Max,” said Webber. “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 againn, 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.”