Daniel Ricciardo says he currently has no desire for the "security" of a long-term F1 contract, following landmark deals signed by McLaren teammate Lando Norris and Red Bull's Max Verstappen.
Norris and reigning World Champion Verstappen made pre-season headlines by putting pen to paper on lengthy new deals that tied them to their teams through 2025 and 2028 respectively.
Meanwhile, Ricciardo is entering the penultimate season of his agreement with McLaren, following a mixed 2021 campaign that raised questions over the Australian's long-term future at the team.
Ricciardo "not craving" the deals signed by Norris and Verstappen
Asked by RacingNews365.com if he has any worries about not sitting on a long-term deal similar to those of Norris and Verstappen, Ricciardo was clear in his response.
"No, not at all. I think it's really just a different stage in my career," he commented.
"Obviously not to get ahead of myself, but I'm not looking for that, like, five-year security or anything. I think looking ahead, [at] the end of next year, I'll be approaching like 34, 35, so mid-30s.
"I think to kind of lock in something really long-term now... it might be something that I get to the midpoint of this year, and I'm like, 'Yeah, I want to attach another three years onto this'.
"But let's say, when I signed the three-year deal, that seemed like a good length to give me, with the kind of security and comfort I needed.
"The five-year contracts, for someone the age of Lando or Max, I totally get it. I'm not craving that long-term thing."
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Does Ricciardo still think he can fight for the title?
After the aforementioned rollercoaster season at McLaren, Ricciardo remains confident that he can get his career back on track and still target his life-time goal of fighting for a World Championship.
Asked if he feels he has 'missed the boat' in terms of a title challenge, he said: "No, I don't. I think for two kind of clear reasons.
"I still feel that same desire and belief in myself, that I can do it, and if that feeling started to diminish, for sure, I'd be like 'red flag'.
"Lewis [Hamilton] is also a shining example that you can still perform at the highest level well into your 30s. And [Fernando] Alonso might be another even more extreme example. But Lewis has obviously won world titles in his mid-30s.
"Basically, those two factors are giving me - let's say - all the kind of confidence I need."
Ricciardo: Maybe I haven't reached my peak yet
Indeed, Ricciardo expects to benefit from each passing season as his F1 career stretches out, again using Hamilton as an example.
"I actually heard Lewis say something recently in an interview, or it must have been last year, but it's very true – even he said he's never found the perfect lap," added Ricciardo.
"We're always looking for something we believe we're capable of, but we might not quite get it.
"For sure, I've shown that I can be the best, there have been occasions, but obviously I'm trying to show it every weekend."
He added: "Going back to the age thing, maybe I haven't reached my peak yet, so that's also the thing where I'm like, 'I can still do this in my 30s'."
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