Mark Webber believes that the best thing that Aston Martin Red Bull Racing‘s Daniel Ricciardo can do this year is beating team-mate Max Verstappen again, rather than worrying about where he will be driving for the 2019 season.
Ricciardo beat Verstappen in the points table in 2017, but the young Dutchman had the upper hand in qualifying throughout the year and was also hindered by more retirements than Ricciardo, making it difficult to know who got the better of their team-mate consistently throughout the season.
Whilst Verstappen signed a contract extension with the team last year, to take him to 2020 with them, Ricciardo’s contract runs out at the end of the 2018 season – making his future unclear past this point. He will undoubtedly be one of the most sought-after drivers on the grid but has maintained that he won’t be making a decision on his future until later this year.
But fellow Australian Webber thinks that he would be best off focusing on beating the much-hyped Verstappen again this year, rather than thinking too much about his next career move.
“I think the best thing he can do is beat Max,” said Webber, speaking to Motorsport.com. “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.”
Red Bull’s Team Principal Christian Horner has commented that despite Verstappen’s extended contract, there is no ‘number one’ driver in the team. Ricciardo has also made it clear that he feels that he and his team-mate have been given equal opportunities.
“Red Bull will support the guy that’s leading the championship and doing the business,” Webber added.
“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.”