Daniel Ricciardo isn’t likely to get carried away by one victory with Red Bull as he considers whether or not to stay with the team beyond 2018.
The Australian produced an incredible performance to make use of a great strategy call by the pit-wall to pit for new tyres during a Safety Car period in the middle of Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix.
He would overtake both Ferraris and both Mercedes’ in a remarkable stretch of laps that saw him go from P6 to take the lead from Valtteri Bottas and claim his first win of 2018 and the sixth of his career.
However, now in his fifth season with Red Bull, it is that lowly figure of six that is responsible for Ricciardo contemplating seats at Ferrari and Mercedes as the 28-year-old has just one goal in mind.
“I really feel like, just give me a chance to be in a title hunt and I really believe I’ll take it,” he told Sky Sports.
“I feel I can capitalise on opportunities and I guess today was a good example.”
The victory also came after a tough seven days which was perhaps more indicative of his time at the team with an early mechanical failure in Bahrain resulting in retirement and even a turbo failure in final practice this past Saturday which almost meant he missed qualifying.
“This sport’s crazy, a week ago I was with my head down after two weeks and frustrated at the sport, frustrated at all the variables that are involved in the sport,” Ricciardo admitted.
“Sometimes I question why I chose this sport because there’s so many other things sort of out of your control and it does get you down a lot.
“But then when you get a day like this [when you win], it’s worth 50 of those bad ones.”
The importance of his performance was not lost on Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, particularly as he saw his other driver, Max Verstappen, show his inexperience again by colliding with Sebastian Vettel.
“He’s a very rounded driver now,” the Briton said.
“He’s absolutely at the top of his game and I think he has been for the last couple of years. He’s hit that balance of experience and pace.
“He’s one of the best overtakers in the business. Daniel has been clinical in the way that he’s executed that race in the passing moves.
“There was one move on Lewis [Hamilton] at Turn 14, he came from so far back. He just got the job done.”
Given the importance of the team effort both on Saturday and in the decision-making in the race, Horner also hopes it shows the Aussie that Red Bull is still the team to be with.
“I think Daniel’s happy in this environment. If we can provide a car like we did today why would he want to be anywhere else?” he said.
The man himself though is not likely to make a knee-jerk reaction.
“Obviously getting a win is nice, but I guess the plan was to try and hold off a little bit [before making a decision],” Ricciardo explained.
“Today we had really strong pace in the second half of the race and I think once we get to Europe it will probably start to balance itself out. All three teams have had their moments so far this season.
“It’s interesting, it’s fun, and I don’t think today will hurt my position. It’s a good day.”