Daniel Ricciardo says he will not leave Red Bull waiting too long before making a decision on whether to sign a new contract beyond 2018.
This year's driver market is likely to focus around the Australian and who will be driving at Mercedes in 2019. While both Mercedes drivers are out of contract, the team is closing in on a new deal with Lewis Hamilton, but Valtteri Bottas' future at the team is likely to hinge on how he performs this season.
Although Ricciardo understands he is in a strong negotiating position, he is not going to let the uncertainty linger on for too long.
"I don't want to treat it like I'm the big dog holding all the cards and everyone's going to listen to me and wait for my call," he told Racer magazine. "I have spoken briefly to Red Bull since the end of the season and they haven't given me an ultimatum either -- they haven't put a contract in front of me and said sign this contract or we're moving on. They've been kind and given me some time, they understand I want to see where we are in testing and the first race or two."
Last year Red Bull confirmed a contract extension for Ricciardo's teammate, Max Verstappen, through to 2020, which the Australian believes has been the reason there has been so much interest in his next move.
"The only reason I've been asked so many contract questions is because Max already signed, but if Max hadn't done the deal yet I don't think I'd be getting asked so much. To do it a whole year in advance is still pretty early; leaving it to October is probably too late. Come end of March, April, once we've had a couple of races you'll start to hear a little bit more going on."
During last year's U.S. Grand Prix, Ricciardo fueled speculation of a switch to Mercedes when he told ESPN he wants to compete alongside Hamilton while the world champion is in his prime. He believes going against the quickest drivers on the grid is the only way he can truly prove himself.
"I've never really been too fussed about the kind of teammate I have. People might call me a liar for this but I want a fast teammate. I think for two reasons, it's always going to get more out of yourself and it's always going to be a more true evaluation of where you stand. I'm in this sport to win but win by being the best, not by being lucky.
"If I win the title I want to know I was the best guy that year and to be the best you've got to go atainst the best. I've certainly got a very good one alongside me in Max, but I would like to go alongside Lewis at some point, irrespective of team situation. That would be fun."