Christian Horner has stated that it is Red Bull's "priority" to agree a new contract with Daniel Ricciardo once the team knows the competitiveness of its 2018 car, but believes they have options should the Australian move to another team.
Ricciardo has been in the Red Bull program for ten years and has won five races since joining the senior team in 2014.
With his contract expiring in 12 months' time, the Aussie is preparing for the "biggest decision" of his career as he could move to a rival team such as Mercedes or Ferrari, or stick it out with his current employers.
Ricciardo only wants to commit if he is given a race and title-winning car by Red Bull and Horner understands as F1 gears up slowly for the new year.
"We've just come through a long hard season, so the last thing we're going to be doing is getting into the depths of contract discussions," Horner told Sky Sports News.
"But I think early in the new year, once we've seen how the car's performing, how things are panning out, then it's our priority to make sure that we retain Daniel in the team until at least 2020.
"It's also a critical time in his career, he's 28 years of age. This next step is going to be crucial for him and we just want to make sure we give him the right car to be able to deliver his potential.
Ricciardo finished 2017 fifth in the championship and outscored teammate Max Verstappen, but the Dutchman outqualified Ricciardo over the course of the year and took two victories to Ricciardo's one.
Nevertheless, Ricciardo is still considered one of the best and most consistent drivers on the grid and can always get the job done on race day, so naturally, the team want to retain him alongside Verstappen despite neither driver being a world champion.
Even if Ricciardo does jumps ship, Horner says the team does have options in place if that does indeed happen.
Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley are currently at Toro Rosso while they could also bring Carlos Sainz back from Renault, but their preference is to retain the current lineup.
"It's always good to have options," Horner added. "We've invested a lot in the young driver programme over the years and we've got some great talent on the programme.
"We're certainly not short of options."
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