DANIEL RICCIARDO has warned Red Bull that he could join Ferrari or Mercedes if they are off the pace again next season.
The Aussie is out of contract at the end of 2018 and says he is keeping his options open as he prepares to handle negotiations himself.
The 28-year-old is currently fourth in the championship and has one win to his name this season and nine podiums.
However, there is a widespread feeling that it could have been more had it not been for Red Bull’s slow start to the season, plus an under-strength Renault engine.
Ricciardo said said: “I would not guarantee anything now. I am not saying I going to be staying here 100 per cent or say that I am leaving.
“Performance is the key. That will be the biggest dictator and obviously other teams will have to want to take me or Red Bull want me to keep me.
“But if everyone wanted me, then performance would be the big tick for me. I am excited about it because it is new and different.
“I have had the stability for the last few years, so why not rock the boat a little bit.
“But I am happy with the team and for me to be driving well, I need to be happy and enjoy the environment, but we will see.”
Meanwhile, Channel 4 pundit Mark Webber feels his countryman might have to move if his relationship with his team-mate Max Verstappen deteriorates.
The two fell out in Budapest this season following a collision but for the best part of the campaign have remained friends.
Yet with the Dutchman having been offered a new deal by Red Bull and with Ricciardo still waiting, Webber feels the harmony in the team could change.
He said: “It is the big dynamic that has changed is that Max has signed. He has rocked everyone’s establishments, not just Daniel’s.
“Daniel is one of the top guys but he is going to have to have a fight with him in the future at Red Bull or another team.
“The big thing is if Red Bull can do a Mercedes and manage an unbelievable campaign with Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
“If they can it would be great but if they can’t he might have to move teams, because all the top teams are looking at him.
“What Max has done is extraordinary but on Sunday afternoons, Daniel is immense. It’s just the way that when someone young comes in, the momentum builds.”
- Channel 4 is the home of free-to-air Formula One in the UK. Watch the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix live on Channel 4 from 12pm on Sunday 26th November