At the end of last year, Red Bull extended Max Verstappen's deal and agreed to give Daniel Ricciardo some time to think over his options. This time was given to the five-time Grand Prix winner during a moment in which most contracts expire.
Ricciardo is now 28 and he considers that this is a crucial moment in his career and it is the most important decision he has to make.
"I've still got years in this sport, but I'm not 23/24 anymore," he told Autosport. "I'm still learning. I don't feel I'm past my peak. The next contract I sign or next extension I do, they are potentially the peak years of my career. That next bit of paper I sign could make or break my desire in terms of whether I can fight for a title or not. That's why I'm taking my time, I want to see where everyone is at. Maybe I'll have more options, maybe I won't."
So, Ricciardo placed himself in what he calls a "make or break" decision. This would be his 7th year as an F1 pilot; his entire career has been with the Red Bull team who also supported him during his junior career. One of the things he emphasized was that the contract that he signs, either with Red Bull or someone else, must be long term.
"It's probably going to be a multiple year deal, two or more, so I need to make sure it's the right place, competitively."
Ricciardo is facing potential careers with Ferrari and Mercedes for 2019. But fellow Australian partner Mark Webber stated days later that he should not think about what team to join next while in the middle of the season. Instead, he should be thinking about beating Verstappen.
"I think the best thing he can do is beat Max," Webber said during a trip to the Bathurst 12 Hour with Porsche. "Which he knows, and he's going to do his best to do that."