Daniel Ricciardo reckons Honda's recent upturn in form with Red Bull sister team Toro Rosso is helping the Japanese manufacturer's chances of securing a deal with Red Bull for 2019.
Red Bull's current engine deal with Renault ends at the end of 2018 leaving it with a decision to make for next season. Toro Rosso signed a three-year deal with Honda at the end of 2017 after McLaren opted to break ties after three unsuccessful seasons together.
Honda has struggled for performance and reliability since returning to Formula One as an engine supplier at the start of 2015. Pierre Gasly's fourth-place finish at last weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix showed that progress is being made and Ricciardo believes these sorts of results will make a Red Bull-Honda partnership look an attractive proposition for 2019.
"It's helping their chances of looking attractive to Red Bull,'' said Ricciardo. "At the moment it has got nothing to do with me because I'm not contracted to the team for next year.
"But those engine discussions don't involve us drivers. I'm aware that there could be some changes next year. And it's cool for Honda. They obviously invested quite a bit in the last few years, and it didn't work with McLaren. But pretty cool that now Toro Rosso is doing well with it."
Red Bull suffered yet another engine related issue in Bahrain, which forced Ricciardo to retire from the Bahrain Grand Prix on the second lap. Team boss Christian Horner insists Red Bull is in no rush to make a decision.
"We've got a great front row seat to follow progress through the first half of the season. That's very much our game plan."