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Daniel Ricciardo Q&A: I must deliver on Toro Rosso opportunity 13 Jan 2012

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) HRT Formula 1 Team on the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Race Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Sunday, 24 July 2011 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Rosso STR6 Test and Reserve Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 8 April 2011 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Rosso STR6 Test and Reserve Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 8 April 2011 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) HRT Formula One Team signs autographs for the fans.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Saturday, 23 July 2011 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Rosso Test and Reserve Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 24 March 2011 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) HRT Formula One Team HRT F111 with broken front wing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Singapore Grand Prix, Race, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Sunday, 25 September 2011 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Rosso STR6 Test and Reserve Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 24 June 2011 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Rosso Test and Reserve Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 21 May 2011

Toro Rosso are always ready to spring a surprise with their driver line-ups, as we saw with the untimely exits of Scott Speed (2007) and Sebastian Bourdais (2009). Nevertheless, the decision to oust both Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari for 2012 really packed a punch. Opting instead for youthful talents Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne is a daring move, but they say fortune favours the brave and Ricciardo is determined to seize his chance, as he explained exclusively to Formula1.com…

Q: Daniel, Toro Rosso’s decision to hire two new guys to race was quite a radical move. Were you surprised?
Daniel Ricciardo:
The news was very nice for me to hear! Yes, I was a little surprised, as I wasn’t given any hints previously that this was the direction the team was looking into. It’s a tremendous opportunity for me and I can’t wait for Melbourne, or - even sooner - for Jerez.

Q: Were you surprised about how quickly Formula One careers can be side-lined?
DR:
Not really surprised, as I know how it works at this level and I think any level of elite sport. There is always going to be someone else coming through the ranks trying to knock you off, so you always have to be on your game and seize every possible opportunity.

Q: Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has been quoted as saying that Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari are not ‘winners’. What can you learn from that about the team’s expectations?
DR:
I have been working with Dr Marko for four years now so I know very well that he has high expectations. It’s always been the case. I use it as motivation to get the best out of myself and push to the very limit. If this is achieved then that's real success.

Q: How important was it to be given the chance to race for HRT for part of last season? It wasn’t the most competitive car, but did you learn from the experience?
DR:
I always saw it as an opportunity. I knew if I could do well at HRT, it could lead to bigger things. So it didn’t really matter how competitive the car was, I just had to learn as much as I could and keep trying to get the most out of it. I believe now it has set me up very well for this year. It was a great move for my career.

Q: Will it give you an advantage over Jean-Eric Vergne?
DR:
The obvious thing is experience, which it has given me over him. But we are not talking about years more experience. It should kick start my season and make it perhaps easier for me in the first race or two. But if Jean-Eric is F1 quality, which he has proved, (the advantage of) this extra experience shouldn’t last the whole season. Plus we will arrive in Melbourne having already done a fair chunk of testing, so things will start to even out soon enough. At least in theory! (laughs)

Q: There have been comments from you lately that you have to get ‘tougher’. What exactly does that mean?
DR:
Ha! I was interviewed recently and was talking about a few points and yes that was one I made. It probably got blown out of proportion, but it is one area which I want to improve, although not really any more than other areas such as qualifying, pit stops etc. About the toughness, I was suggesting I had been a bit cautious in some situations last season to make sure I got the miles and finished races. I was less careful in Singapore on the opening lap and paid for it, so I realized in my position it was probably better at that stage not to go for the smaller gaps.

Q: Toro Rosso nurture talents for Red Bull Racing. Now the last two guys were not deemed to be fit for that purpose. Will you take a shot at claiming Mark Webber’s seat?
DR:
There has already been talk about this in the media, which seems pretty optimistic. We haven’t even sat in a car yet for 2012 and they are already looking at 2013. It’s a long time away and many things can happen between now and then, that’s the reality. I understand very well the philosophy of Red Bull and, yes, one day I would love to race for Red Bull Racing, but that’s all it is for now - just a bit of a goal. I have 20 races this year which I will take one by one and make sure I leave every event fulfilled and with no regrets.

Q: How will you prepare for the first Grand Prix of the season - your home race - in Australia in March? How will you get ready in terms of fitness, technical know-how and familiarising yourself with people in the team?
DR:
From now until Melbourne is a very busy and exciting time. I spent some time with my trainer in Australia over Christmas to get physically prepared for the year ahead. That will be a constant process throughout the year and we just have to manage our time and energy around the very busy calendar. I have already spent time in Italy with Toro Rosso discussing the testing programme and getting familiar with all the team. There are also photo shoots, filming days, sponsor events - it is a never-ending list this time of the year. Everyone wants a piece! But that’s all due to excitement and passion. We love Formula One.

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