Daniel Ricciardo believes that Honda’s improvements during the start of the new Formula 1 season have enhanced its chances of being taken up by Red Bull’s senior team.
Scuderia Toro Rosso is into the first of its three-year deal with Honda while Red Bull Racing’s contract with Renault runs out at the end of 2018.
The Japanese manufacturer’s upturn has been highlighted by a fourth position finish for Pierre Gasly in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Ironically, the Frenchman’s result came in part due to Ricciardo’s energy store failure which caused his RB14 to stop on just Lap 2.
The West Australian, who is also currently off-contract with Red Bull come season’s end, agrees with commentary that Honda’s performance could see it supply the Milton Keynes squad next year.
“I mean, it’s helping their chances of looking attractive to Red Bull,” said Ricciardo.
“At least at the moment it has got nothing to do with me. And I do mean that, because I’m not contracted to the team for next year.
“But those engine discussions, you know, don’t involve us drivers. I’m aware that there could be some changes next year. And it’s cool for Honda.
“They obviously invested quite a bit in the last few years, and it didn’t work with McLaren. But (it is) pretty cool that now Toro Rosso is doing well with it.”
Renault Sport boss Cyril Abiteboul has been agitating for a call from Red Bull Racing to be made in time for the May 15 deadline, at which time engine suppliers are supposed to advise the FIA of which teams they are supplying the following season.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner, however, indicated that a decision may not be forthcoming until the summer break.
“We’ve got a great front row seat to follow progress through the first half of the season,” said Horner.
“That’s very much our game plan.”
Ricciardo and Gasly are currently tied on 12 championship points in seventh and eighth respectively, 38 points behind leader Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen is four points further back in 10th, while Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley remains scoreless with finishes of 15th in Australia and 17th in Bahrain.
The Chinese Grand Prix weekend starts tomorrow.