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Exclusive Q&A with Daniel Ricciardo: I hope to push Vettel in 2014 26 Oct 2013

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying, Suzuka, Japan, Saturday, 12 October 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Preparations, Saturday, 26 October 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso at the Scuderia Toro Rosso Team Photo.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Preparations, Saturday, 26 October 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Preparations, Friday, 25 October 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso walks the track.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Preparations, Thursday, 24 October 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying, Suzuka, Japan, Saturday, 12 October 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 11 October 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Practice, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 4 October 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Practice, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 4 October 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 24 August 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 23 August 2013

It has been just under two months since Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo was announced as Mark Webber’s replacement at Red Bull for 2014. Since then the Australian has experienced several disappointing results, but his trademark smile has never strayed far from his face. We caught up with the 24-year-old to discuss how his life has changed since being announced as Sebastian Vettel’s next team mate…

Q: Daniel, you’ve been picked as Mark Webber’s successor at Red Bull - but since that announcement things haven’t gone so well. How is it to descend from cloud number nine back to reality?
Daniel Ricciardo:
Ha! But honestly it’s been okay. When my switch was announced in Monza it was a crazy weekend. The result that weekend was good - I finished in P7. Then came Singapore and that was not really great, but in both Korea and Japan I was pretty satisfied with my performance, the way I drove. True, having the failure in Korea only three laps before the chequered flag - and in Japan the drive-through penalty, which was very debatable - didn’t let me add to my tally. In Japan we’ve calculated that without the penalty we would have been clearly in the top ten - so I was satisfied with my driving. I’ve had a bit of bad luck lately - but I probably used up all my luck in September when Red Bull announced me! (laughs)

Q: What has changed for you since Monza? Before you were an F1 hopeful, now you are the ‘chosen one’…
DR:
The chosen one - that sounds almost like Star Wars - I like that! In fact not much has changed - probably I get more attention from the media, being a man a little bit more in demand, but in my daily routine nothing has changed. Maybe there’s been a small alteration in my head: it has made me more excited.

Q: For you, having the chance to race alongside Sebastian is like hitting the jackpot - but there are voices that suggest that it could have a negative impact on Sebastian if you’re not able to constantly push him. Will you be able to constantly push him?
DR:
Yes, I will be the pushing team mate. I have confidence that I’ll do that. Hopefully from the first race on. To be honest I don’t set so many targets.

Q: What targets have you set for 2014 then?
DR:
To get up to Seb’s speed as soon as possible. I hope to get there! I would love to have some podiums and a victory. If I could get that first victory next year, that would be great.

Q: Your current team mate Jean-Eric said he is just as good as you - saying in a roundabout way that it might be an unfair decision having picked you. Can you understand his frustration?
DR:
Yes, definitely. It was always clear that there would only be one cockpit free, and only one driver to make that step, and I am sure that if I was in his position I would also be disappointed. But it is not all negative for him as he is still in Formula One. He is still young - one year younger than me - and there is still time for him getting a top seat in the future.

Q: It is no secret that you have to have sound self-esteem to succeed in F1 - and you definitely need more of that self-esteem to survive alongside Sebastian. Do you have that?
DR:
It is probably the type of person I am. I believe that I’ve got this far for a reason - so there is no reason why it should stop here. With each year I get more hungry and determined. I see Seb and I know that he is a phenomenal driver - but he is also only human. If I really put the hard work in I should be able to challenge the top guys. I have other interests as well that keep me quite grounded and I think that also plays a huge part. I also have a life outside F1. That healthy balance is good for success.

Q: When you look at the predominance of Sebastian - are you worried to death about your future? You are on a one year contract…
DR:
Ha, that sounds like I am embarking on a horror movie! The honest truth is that I want to see how good I am. I am good enough to be here, but my real target is to be the best and to have Seb as my team mate is a big assessment for me. If he drowns me, that’s life, but if he does I want to go down knowing that I have done my best. But that is not the plan - to be drowned.

Q: You say that things haven’t gone so well lately - why is that? Toro Rosso seemed so promising, but now Sauber has overtaken you in the constructors’ championship…
DR:
Tyres played a role - of course - but I don’t think that it is entirely down to that. I have heard that Sauber brought a big update after the August break - and it really worked for them. And Nico is a very strong driver. So their package is improving. Us, we are a bit stabilized. We want to make the next step - but right now we are a bit below. Hopefully we can win some points and fight back.

Q: Your team principal had said that P6 should be the 2013 goal. Right now you are a bit off that target…
DR:
I respect Franz (Tost) for his optimism. Unfortunately it is not the case now - and hopefully at least we can recover P7.

Q: Are you already in a preparation process for Red Bull. What has already changed - and what will change in the next weeks and months?
DR:
Nothing specific has changed or will change. I want to arrive in January and be ready. Of course I know that weight will be crucial - the lighter the better - so I have managed to experiment a bit with taking off a bit of weight - and so far I am succeeding.

Q: Coming to today’s qualifying: do you think you’ve done enough? Is there a bit of disappointment in your voice?
DR:
Well, when I came on the radio in P2 my engineer told me that I was in P9 - and that sounded pretty cool. Some seconds later it turned out to be P11 and yes, there is a bit of disappointment. But I have to say that I got everything possible out of the car - so I can live with it. So far it has not been a smooth weekend. Yesterday afternoon I damaged the car so I couldn’t do a long run and with the issues that there have been this morning - with the delay and everything - there was no chance to make up leeway. So with all this as a baggage I think we did make an improvement in qualifying - even if it wasn’t Q3.

Q: Does that give you the chance to refine the strategy for tomorrow as you have the freedom of tyre choice? If you want to fight back for P7 there’s no time to waste…
DR:
Yes, of course it gives us a bit more scope with the strategy, and we will know how to use that. I definitely think that we can make strategy play to our advantage as we have the advantage of the free tyre choice. That should make good for the six hundredths that we were shy of Q3 - even though it is disappointing to miss Q3 by such a small margin! So it will all have to be in the race. As I am expecting Seb to win the title tomorrow, I also plan to shine and grab some points! To keep it all in the family!

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