Abu Dhabi: Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo has big shoes to fit into when he takes the seat vacated by compatriot Mark Webber at Red Bull next season. More importantly, being the teammate of four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel means he is going to be under the scanner from race one.
Ricciardo believes he has a cool head over his shoulders and insists he is very much up for the task at hand. “Definitely a big challenge but something I’m very excited for. To have an opportunity to get on the podium and win some races will be a beautiful moment,” he said, sporting a broad smile.
“I have obviously the best guy [Vettel] in the world next to me and he will be tough to stop. But I’m looking forward to the challenge,” said the 24-yr-old.
Ricciardo has certainly come a long way since making his debut with the HRT team midway through 2011 but his immediate task would be to quickly settle into the scheme of things of the champion team and try to keep up with Vettel, who has been unstoppable for the fourth year running.
“I know the Red Bull team has won the last four championships. I won’t be expected to just get points but I will be expected to get top five and podiums. This is something I haven’t done yet but I’m sure I can prove my worth and show them why they have picked me,” asserted Ricciardo, who also revealed that he has tried to bond with Vettel.
“We talk a little bit but as teammates things will become a bit competitive as they do with time. I have a lot of respect for him and will try and learn as much as possible in the coming season. Vettel is the champion and he is the guy I need to chase. Let’s see how it goes.”
Although the Toro Rosso driver said that the F1 rule change for 2014 won’t affect team Red Bull much, he was hoping that it would prove helpful in challenging Vettel. “Red Bull is a very strong team. Maybe, it will change things a little bit but they have really good people around them. You know Seb [Vettel] has been very dominant in this car and maybe there will be a change,” Ricciardo said.
Is Ricciardo then confident of outdoing Vettel? “Yes!” assured the Aussie, tongue in cheek.
Ricciardo did receive vital tips from the outgoing Webber. “Yes, to be honest, he [Webber] just told me to do what I’m doing. I got to this level by being smart and I brace well. So he said not to change anything that would affect my focus.
“There will be much attention and distractions, so not to get caught up in two minds. Try to keep progressing the way I have been doing,” said Ricciardo, who is now keen on finishing the remaining three races on a high with Toro Rosso.
“These remaining three circuits are the ones I have really enjoyed the most and so I’m very excited. I want to finish with the best possible place with the Toro Rosso. A top five would be really nice. I know it won’t be easy but I’m doing all I can to get to that top five result.”