'Verstappen has stolen the team from Ricciardo'

Sky Sports F1 pundit Martin Brundle says Daniel Ricciardo has had control of Red Bull Racing stolen from him by teammate Max Verstappen.

The Aussie star is officially Red Bull's No.1 driver, but the feeling in Formula One circles is that his younger counterpart will soon take over.

Verstappen was recently re-signed on a lucrative new deal, while Ricciardo's future beyond 2018 is unclear.

Many see Red Bull's re-signing of Versappen as a sign that they see the Dutchman as their main priority.

Verstappen and Ricciardo. Image: Getty

After his victory at the Mexican Grand Prix, Brundle says Verstappen has 'stolen' the team.

"Danny Ric has been very unlucky of late, as his teammate was earlier in the season, but Verstappen has stolen the team from him, just as he did from Vettel," Brundle wrote for Sky Sports.

"He either has to steal it right back which is easier said than done or have a move cemented early for 2019 with Mercedes, Ferrari or McLaren where possible."

Red Bull say they're prepared to wait for Ricciardo to decide his future but have Spaniard Carlos Sainz as a 'safety net' if he opts to leave after 2018.

Team boss Christian Horner told reporters on Monday that he wanted the Australian star to stay alongside 20-year-old Verstappen, who has a long-term contract.

Ricciardo will be in the final season of a five-year deal next year and has been linked to Mercedes and Ferrari in media speculation.

"The next move he makes at 28 years of age is a very important one for him. So of course I'm sure he's going to take the time to make sure the decision is right for him," said Horner.

"But he knows the intent very clearly, and I've discussed it with him, is that we want him in the team. If that takes another six months, then so be it."

Verstappen won the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday, his second victory of the season, while Ricciardo celebrated victory in Azerbaijan in June.

Riccirado is fourth in the season standings amid a season that's included eight other podium placings while Verstappen is sixth.

The Australian's race in Meico ended after barely a handful of laps, however, with a turbo problem.

"I think he's keen to see what engine performance looks like next year, which is understandable," said Horner.

Red Bull used Renault engines, branded Tag Heuer. While the former champions have won three times this year and taken more points than Ferrari in recent races, they have also suffered frequent failures.

"He knows how we go about our racing and how we treat the two drivers, which he's extremely comfortable and happy with," Horner said of Ricciardo.

"I think, as his character has developed and as his personality has come across, he sees the fit between Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull.

"I think he sees the capability that we have within the team. And I think he's very happy in the team."

Asked what would happen if Ricciardo decided to leave, Horner said Red Bull were prepared for that.

"That's why we kept Carlos Sainz on loan, that's why we have options around us. We have a safety net but our number one objective is to retain the pairing that we have," he said.

Sainz has been loaned from Toro Rosso to Renault as part of an engine deal that allowed the Red Bull-owned team to end a contract with the French manufacturer and partner Honda next season.

with AAP