Daniel Ricciardo acknowledges that the decisions he makes regarding his next contract could prove crucial in terms of whether he stands a chance of being a future world champion.
The 28-year-old is out of contract at Red Bull at the end of 2018. However, he's taking his time deciding where to go next.
"The next contract I sign or next extension I do, they are potentially the peak years of my career," he told Motorsport.com.
"That next bit of paper I sign could make or break my desire in terms of whether I can fight for a title or not," he acknowledged.
"That's why I'm taking my time, I want to see where everyone is at. Maybe I'll have more options, maybe I won't.
"I doubt I'll sign a one-year deal somewhere," he added.
"It's probably going to be a multiple year deal, two or more. So I need to make sure it's the right place, competitively."
Ricciardo made his Formula 1 début with HRT midway through the 2011 season, before moving to Toro Rosso the following year.
He was promoted to the senior Red Bull squad in 2014 alongside Sebastian Vettel, replacing the retiring Mark Webber. He won three races in his first season with the team, and two more since.
2018 will be the Australian's seventh full season in Formula 1, but he insists he's still developing as a driver.
"I'm still learning. I don't feel I'm past my peak," he said. "I've still got years in this sport, but I'm not 23 or 24 anymore."
Ricciardo has been linked with a possible move to Mercedes next year. However, he's also not ruling out staying at Red Bull despite speculation that he's been 'pushed aside' in favour of current team mate Max Verstappen.
"Certainly I feel like part of the family," he said.
"Whether I was to stay at Red Bull the rest of my career, or eventually move on, I would still keep close to a lot of the people within the family."