Daniel Ricciardo is believed to have extended his contract with Red Bull until 2018 after backing the team to challenge for the F1 title next season.
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After blaming the team for the tactical errors which cost him victory in Monaco and Spain, the Australian warned Red Bull at last week’s Canadian GP he would leave unless they supplied him with a title-winning package.
However, it is understood Red Bull have now exercised their option on Ricciardo, tying the 26-year-old to the former world champions for at least another two-and-a-half years.
“The contract was always long term and in a way it was always that length,”confirmed Ricciardo t
“But it’s performance based and obviously Helmut [Marko, the Red Bull advisor who is the right-hand man of owner Dietrich Mateschitz] and the team are happy with what l am doing and happy with me and Max [Verstappen] and want to keep us on board.”
With both of his parents of Italian descent, Ricciardo has been heavily linked with Ferrari amid widespread expectation the Scuderia will drop Kimi Raikkonen at the end of the year.
But the Australian has opted to stay put after concluding that Red Bull are the best placed of Mercedes’ rivals to forge a title challenge when the sport’s aerodynamic regulations are refreshed at the end of the current campaign.
“At the moment this looks like being the best place to be,” he said. “If Mercedes don’t make changes there is nowhere else that looks that attractive. With the rules next year, l think it’s going to be a strong fit and l hope we can really fight for a title in 2017.”