Daniel Ricciardo has admitted for the first time that he will be forced to have his 'eyes and ears a little bit more open' by the end of this month if Red Bull Racing hasn't determined whether it will continue in Formula 1 or quit.
With Red Bull Racing still discussing with Ferrari over a potential customer engine supply for 2016 having now severed ties with Renault, top brass have reiterated that the team – along with Toro Rosso - could yet walk away from the sport altogether if it cannot secure the deal it is seeking.
With just five races and less than two months remaining of the 2015 F1 World Championship season, the reality of the situation is now beginning to filter down to the drivers, with Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz all facing uncertain futures.
Though each has expressed confidence in team bosses to resolve the situation, Ricciardo admits he is imposing a countdown to the end of October for when he will need to begin considering his future options if Red Bull hasn't made a formal decision by then.
“I haven't thought about the negative potential outcome of it yet, I'm still pretty positive,” he said. “It's good that Dietrich has set a bit of a deadline because we have got to know what we are doing and if we are going with 'X' engine then we have got to start designing the car and all the rest of it.
“We can't wait until Christmas, so we will see in a few more weeks if we get a decision or an outcome. I'm still positive as long as we have still got time on our side.
“It's not the end of October yet, so I'll remain positive and if we get to the end of October and nothing has been sorted then I'll for sure start having my eyes and ears a little bit more open about what else is going on. I think we will get something that is decent enough to convince us to stay in the sport and that means giving us a chance to win.”
Excluding the notion of three-car teams, even if Ricciardo does attempt to look beyond Red Bull, his options are limited at best, with just Lotus-Renault and Manor offering free seats now.. With this in mind, though Ricciardo is accepting of a potential season on the sidelines, he feels he is too young to take a year out.
“Once the season started, if I was on the couch watching it … I want to be out racing that's for sure. I'm too young to be sat on the couch!”