Next season will be a pivotal year for Daniel Ricciardo, one which could make or break the Aussie's future in Formula 1.
Ricciardo will embark on the last year of his current deal with Red Bull Racing, meaning crucial contract talks will soon be in order, the outcome of which will likely depend on his team's success in 2018 as well as on the interest of those who may set their sights on recruiting the Honey Badger.
"Next year is a big one for me," Ricciardo wrote in his last Red Bull blog of the year.
"They're all big, but there's a bit going on other than just the driving.
"I'm not just going to settle on something because I want it to be off my mind, because there's a lot at stake. It's a big decision for me, so if I need to take time to make it, I will."
The five-time Grand Prix winner underlines the need to make the right call for the long term.
"I'm planning on being in the sport for a long while yet, but in saying that, if I was to sign, say, a three-year deal, that's a big chunk of the next part of my career.
"I need to get it right, so it's a big call - the most important one for me yet, I think."
In his quest for a prosperous F1 future, Ricciardo insists money will take a back seat to performance when he sits at the negotiation table next year, regardless of the party he shall be talking with.
"I know what I want, and the performance side is more important than ticking the money box, if you like," he added.
"Having the chance to be able to fight for something really meaningful - races, championships - that's the absolute priority. It's not even close.
"I'm 29 next year and the next deal will take me into my 30s," Ricciardo explained.
"So it's not like I'm the young unproven kid who'll sign anything just to get on the grid, or at the other end of my career when I'm hanging on and doing things year by year.
"You look at Lewis and when he did his Mercedes deal, he was the same age as I am now if I remember correctly.
"He was already doing very well where he was, but his career has really taken off since then. So, there's a lot to consider."
As a loyal member of the Red Bull family since his junior years in the sport, Ricciardo has never had to submit to arduous contract talks. The prospect has him more excited than worried however.
"Being in the position to make the decision is something cool, something unusual, and something where I feel like I'll probably learn a lot," he said.
"No matter what happens, it'll be a growing experience for me because it's something I've not been through.
"It'll be nice to stand on my own two feet and make some grown-up decisions. Maybe even act like an adult! It's all part of the evolution, I'm told..."