February 28, 2018 / 4:20 PM / 4 months ago

Motor racing: Ricciardo expects contract talks in April

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Australian Daniel Ricciardo expects to resume contract talks with Red Bull after the first few races of the Formula One season that starts on home territory in Melbourne in March.

F1 Formula One - Formula One Test Session - Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Montmelo, Spain - February 26, 2018 Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing speaks to media during testing REUTERS/Albert Gea

The 28-year-old has an important decision to make, with his next move likely to be crucial to his hopes of becoming his country’s first world champion since Alan Jones in 1980.

Red Bull have said they want him to stay but champions Mercedes and Ferrari, the sport’s most successful team, both have drivers whose contracts are expiring at the end of the year.

“Nothing has really developed since the end of the season. I switched off from F1,” Ricciardo told Sky Sports television at pre-season testing at a cold and wet Circuit de Catalunya on Wednesday.

“I think realistically around April things will start to be spoken. After a few races, hopefully I win the first few and I can have a powerful say in what I do.”

Red Bull already have Dutch driver Max Verstappen under contract until 2020.

The 20-year-old is regarded as a world champion of the future, and there has been plenty of speculation about an eventual move to Mercedes or Ferrari.

Mercedes are expected to agree a new long-term deal with four times world champion Lewis Hamilton in the next few weeks but Finland’s Valtteri Bottas has an uncertain future as his team mate.

So too does 2007 world champion and fellow-Finn Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari, who have Germany’s four times champion and 2017 runner-up Sebastian Vettel signed up to 2020.

Ricciardo, race winner in Azerbaijan last year, joined former champions Red Bull Racing in 2014 after making his debut with now-defunct HRT in 2011 and racing for Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso for two years.

The Australian was fastest on the opening day of pre-season testing on Monday.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis

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