Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has reiterated his desire to retain the services of Daniel Ricciardo until at least 2020.
Last month, Horner described Ricciardo and his young team-mate, Max Verstappen, as the "best driver line-up in Formula One".
However, the Australian is about to enter the final 12 months of his contract and speculation over his future continues to swirl, with Mercedes and Ferrari both finishing comfortably ahead of Red Bull in the 2017 constructors' standings.
"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 the first time he's effectively a free agent. 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."
Should negotiations with Ricciardo, a winner of five races in his four seasons with Red Bull's senior team, not progress in positive fashion, Horner insists his team have plenty of alternatives.
"We've invested a lot in the young driver programme over the years and we've got some great talent on the programme," he added.
"We're certainly not short of options."
|BREAKING NEWS: Mercedes & Bottas agree multi-year deal|
|Neymar backs ´genius´ Ronaldo to make Serie A great again|
|Sanchez to face San Jose Earthquakes as Mourinho grows desperate in attack|
|Ibrahimovic to watch England at Wembley – Zlatan will honour Beckham bet|
|Cubs use five-run fifth inning to trump Cardinals|
|Manchester United 1 America 1: Mata salvages draw for Red Devils|
|Steelers´ Super Bowl window getting smaller - Brown|
|Neymar cares about PSG and will stay amid Real Madrid speculation|
|NFL, NFLPA at ´standstill agreement´ over anthem policy|
|Guardiola: It would´ve been a mistake for Jorginho to join City|
|Angels star Ohtani cleared to resume pitching|
|´I don´t give a f***´ – Cousins hits back at critics after Warriors move|
|Merritt leads Barbasol Championship|
|Ruud awakening for Ferrer in Bastad|
|Nibali withdraws from Tour de France with back fracture|
|Fabinho: I´ll try to convince Mbappe to join Liverpool|
|Beating Messi boosted France´s World Cup belief – Lloris|
|Carnoustie saving the worst until last|
|McIlroy´s youthful exuberance could be a bad sign for Carnoustie contenders|
|Saints triumph at second-placed Wigan|
|Anfield atmosphere sweetened Alisson on Liverpool|
|Bouchard reaches Gstaad quarter-finals|
|´What are you waiting for?´ - Alisson reveals Salah text messages|
|´Full package´ Alisson could not be missed - Klopp|
|Alisson to Liverpool: Brazil star becomes most expensive goalkeeper in history|
|Alisson to Liverpool: Brazilian´s stats blitz Mignolet, Karius|
|Liverpool sign Alisson in world-record deal|
|The Open 2018 diary: Spieth´s got ball skills as Finau proves the scratch golfer|
|Woods: Score doesn´t reflect how well I played|
|Can we go to Paris now? - Thomas in a hurry after conquering Alpe d´Huez|
|Thomas: I could have finished stronger|
|Kisner shines at baked Carnoustie as McIlroy, Rahm and Thomas loom|
|Sarri´s mentality made me a better footballer - Jorginho|
|Tax rates played a role in Ronaldo joining Juventus, says LaLiga president|
|Aggressive McIlroy doing it his way, not the fairway|
|I let him have it - Spinazzola ribs Ronaldo over Juve shirt number|
|Thomas makes it back-to-back wins|
|Ramos may remain for Spain but Luis Enrique promising surprises|
|Cazorla still playing through pain after Villarreal appearance|
|Vegas to Carnoustie - a hellish trip for Jhonattan|
|NFL training camp 2018: Five under-the-radar rookies to watch|
|Woods off to a flyer as Thomas charges|
|Sanchez given green light to join Man Utd tour|
|Greipel, Groenewegen and Gaviria latest sprinters to abandon Tour de France|
|Luis Enrique hopeful over Pique as he plots a Spanish evolution|
|I had a brain fart - Spieth disappointed with missed opportunity|
|I´ve sacrificed too much to quit, says injury-plagued Rossi|
|Klopp rejects Henderson´s plea to return early to Liverpool training|
|Open champion Spieth loses ground in scrappy finish|
|Alexis Sanchez hints visa issue sorted as United States trip beckons|
|Kovac an admirer of Pavard, expects James to stay|
|Dzeko happy at Roma and eyeing silverware|
|Eels win basement battle with Bulldogs|
|Kluivert to follow Totti´s example after taking ´big step´ with Roma|
|Kisner hopes to return Claret Jug favour to Spieth|
|FIBA bans 13 players & two coaches over Philippines-Australia brawl|
|Spieth and Rahm in the mix as Kisner sets the target|
|Monchi insists Roma remain ambitious as Liverpool close in on Alisson|
|Cavendish thanks ´race that shaped career & heart´ after cruel Tour exit|
|No Trent Bridge Ashes Test as England confirm schedule|
|Ajax tell Barcelona not even ´insane´ money will buy De Ligt, De Jong|
|Hamilton agrees two-year Mercedes extension|
|Uran withdraws from Tour after failing to shake off injuries|
|Spieth tees off Open defence|
|Zidane has shown no will to coach France, insists FFF president|
|Risking the curse - Steelers star Brown lands on Madden 19 cover|
|Pogba silenced his critics with World Cup displays – Ibrahimovic|
|Warburton overwhelmed by support following retirement|
|Wilshere excited by tactics of Wenger-like Pellegrini|
|Deschamps never considered France exit prior to World Cup win|