Red Bull are currently trying to nail the Australian down to a new deal with his current one set to expire at the end of 2018.
Team-mate Max Verstappen has already committed to the team until 2020 but Ricciardo, 28, believes his next contract will be crucial to his hopes of winning an F1 World Drivers’ Championship.
And while he is likely to have his head turned by the huge sums of money that all three of the top teams will be able to offer him, former McLaren driver Coulthard believes he must look at key members of staff in any prospective team when he puts pen to paper.
“I would want to dig deeper into knowing the contracts of chief engineers and people that are going to influence the future,” Coulthard told Express Sport.
“Let’s say that the teams he could drive for are Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes and let’s say it will be decided in June.
“By then, you’ll start to see if Mercedes are winning. Then he might think he wants to go to Mercedes.
“But if the senior guys’ contracts are up and suddenly you’ve got sponsors pulling out, as sure as a team is dominant at one point, it will change in the fullness of time.”
And while the speed of Mercedes, both of whose drivers currently have deals due to expire at the end of the year, may be attractive, Coulthard believes Fernando Alonso’s career path should be a cautionary tale to the likes of Ricciardo.
“The big advantages Mercedes have right now in the hybrid formula are the ace-card engine and the relative stability in this period of regulations, which they are continuing to finesse,” Coulthard added.
“The Red Bull has to be quite trimmed out to get the speed on the straights and therefore it’s got to be really really efficient in terms of downforce in the corners.
“It’s more than just a personal decision. It’s about getting the crystal ball out and looking into the future.
“Fernando has been the king of making the move at the wrong time.
“He’s still a two-time champion and will be considered one of the greats but his decision-making and his internal management skills would appear to leave things slightly strained.”
Both Ferrari and Mercedes are in the hunt for Ricciardo if he chooses to leave Red Bull, who want a decision made by May and appear unperturbed by the concept of his leaving team.
And Sebastian Vettel, sitting just feet away from the Australian at a press conference earlier today, hinted he would be happy to be reunited with Ricciardo: the pair drove together for a year at Red Bull in 2014 when Ricciardo achieved his joint-best championship result and finished third.
“I’m sure he’ll find a seat so yeah, I don’t know what he’s up to or what he wants,” Vettel said.
“I don’t know how much he’s asking but as I said… I’m confident he’ll find a seat.
“We only shared one year together, I knew him before that and we had one year together which wasn’t great for me, it was great for him.
“But anyways, I think we get along so I wouldn’t mind if we get together again in the future but I don’t know what his plan… I think he has a couple of options and I don’t think he needs to rush.”
Australian Grand Prix 2018 odds
Winner: Lewis Hamilton evens, Sebastian Vettel 10/3, Max Verstappen 11/2, Daniel Ricciardo 7/1, Valtteri Bottas 15/2, Kimi Raikkonen 25/1, Fernando Alonso 50/1.
****Channel 4 is the home of free-to-air coverage of Formula 1 in the UK with live coverage of 10 Grands Prix and comprehensive highlights of every race weekend. Highlights of the Australian Grand Prix on Channel 4 on 25 March.****
Source : EXPRESS