Webber says Ricciardo 'is on a tight rope'

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing with Mark Webber (AUS)
© XPB 

Former Formula 1 driver Mark Webber says that Daniel Ricciardo is facing one the most critical periods of his entire motor racing career.

Ricciardo is about to start negotiations with Red Bull on extending his contract with the team, which expires at the end of 2018.

"The first part of the year is very important for [Daniel]," Webber told The Age newspaper this week. "He knows that. He is on a tight rope. There is no question.

"Any driver comes to that point in his career where it's negotiation time again on contract," he added. "There is a little bit more in the air around the team.

"The team sees that. They are measuring everything now. There is nowhere to hide, which is good for him because it sorts out the wheat from the chaff."

Webber is certainly speaking from experience. He spent seven seasons at Red Bull between 2007 and 2013, first with Daniel Coulthard and latterly with Sebastian Vettel as his team mate.

"I have been through that stability, in the middle of it where you are just knuckling down," he said. "And, obviously, right on the edge where you are waiting to renew your contract. Whether it's you stalling, or the team stalling.

"I have been through both of those," he continued. "At the end of the day, when the helmet is on, it can't affect you. Whether you have a five-year contract or a five-minute contract, you have to deliver."

And the Australian believes that his compatriot has already more than shown he's up to the job.

"He has had a long career and continues to have long career, because he deserves to be there," he said. "He is safe in Formula 1."

But 'safe' might not mean staying at Red Bull. Ricciardo has also been linked with moves to either Mercedes or Ferrari for next season.

"It's just a question if he is wants the absolute perfect team in 2019 and try to get the number one status somewhere in those teams," Webber acknowledged. "That's what he would love to achieve.

"Red Bull, do they know how to put a championship together? Absolutely. They are crafty, in the trenches, they will use every trick in the book. They know what to do to put a long campaign together.

"It's just whether Renault can sustain the blow torch of the amount of horsepower and consistency and reliability that Mercedes have over the course of a long campaign."

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