Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has elaborated on Daniel Ricciardo's future after it was revealed the Aussie was "already on the market."
Team boss Helmut Marko last week admitted that their future revolved around Ricciardo's teammate, Max Verstappen.
"Verstappen has a longer contract," Marko said.
"But Ricciardo is already on the market. We have to look for alternatives. We will not be unprepared."
Ricciardo with his Red Bull team, including Marko (far right). Image: Getty
However, Horner has moved to clarify that position by insisting the Formula One giants are keen to keep hold of their Aussie superstar.
"He's (Ricciardo) technically out of contract at the end of 2018 because he will have completed a five-year contract," Horner said to Motorsport.com.
"But what is absolutely clear is that it's our intention to retain both of our drivers, I would say until 2020.
Helmut likes to state the obvious, and it's obvious he's on the open market. But it doesn’t mean we don't want him."
Horner revealed Red Bull does have a Plan B in the event Ricciardo does leave, with Renault loanee Carlos Sainz an option to potentially return to the fold.
"I wanted to keep (Sainz) under contract as an option should one of the (existing) drivers past next year not be with us," Horner said.
"But the absolute intention is we want Ricciardo and Verstappen in Red Bull Racing cars going forward. They both enjoy being in the team.
"I think the difference with Daniel is for the first time in his career at Red Bull he's got an end in sight to his contract."
Ricciardo himself, hosed down speculation linking his future elsewhere when quizzed about Marko's initial comments.
"I'm 100 per cent - well 99.999 per cent - sure I've got a seat with Red Bull Racing next year," Ricciardo told reporters at the Japanese Grand Prix.
Happy days for Ricciardo. Image: Getty
"I guess he's talking about beyond that, but nothing's been said between us beyond next, so I guess he's more stating facts.
"I don't think he has a plan yet beyond '18. I should be racing next year."
It would be remiss of Red Bull to let Ricciardo leave, with the 28-year-old one of the most marketable drivers in the world.
The Aussie is also in the midst of his best season ever, having finished third in Suzuka behind Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen to claim a career-best ninth podium in one season.
Verstappen and Ricciardo finished first and third in Malaysia. Pic: Getty
However the Aussie's race almost ended in disaster when he narrowly avoided a big crash with Lance Stroll late in the race.
The Williams driver came careering off the track and tried to get back on ahead of Ricciardo, the Red bull gun having to take evasive action at 250km/h.
Fortunately for the Aussie the incident didn't have any baring on his race, with the third-placed finish leaving him fourth on the championship standings.