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Exclusive Daniel Ricciardo Q&A: I’m ready if Red Bull call 22 May 2013

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Preparations, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Wednesday, 22 May 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Race Day, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 12 May 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso eats breakfast at the Red Bull Racing Energy Station.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Preparations, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Wednesday, 22 May 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 10 May 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 11 May 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 21 April 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 11 May 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso cycles the track.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Preparations, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 9 May 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013

Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo arrives in Monaco on the back of an impressive tenth-place finish in Spain and armed with a car revitalised by recent updates. With it the Australian is hopeful of more points - plural rather than singular - in Monte Carlo, as he looks to prove that he really is ready for the F1 big time in 2014, should Red Bull Racing come calling for a Mark Webber replacement…

Q: Daniel, your Barcelona race made quite an impression. Can you talk us through it?
Daniel Ricciardo:
To cut a long story short, the start and the end were very difficult, but the middle was really good! In detail, at the start of the race we were not very fast - let’s say the first ten laps I was thinking, ‘Okay, this is going to be a long day’ - but then, surprise, surprise, the next two stints were really good and we got into a good position. That was the moment when I started to think, ‘Well, today is going to be a good day’. But then towards the end of race we lost a bit of speed and suffered a bit with tyres, so in the end we were tenth. It was nice to get one point, but at one stage I definitely hoped that it would be more.

Q: Your performance this season will be crucial to your Formula One future. What is your survival strategy?
DR:
Ha, not to swim in Australia - because of the sharks!

Q: Other than that?
DR:
To keep on doing what I am doing and not get distracted by things outside my job. I don’t read many things that are written about me, so I keep a cool head. When I am away from the races I usually train and don’t think too much about racing. And when I come to a race venue I am fully committed. That procedure has worked well for me for the last couple of years so I will continue doing it.

Q: Your team principal Franz Tost said recently that right now you have the upper hand over your team mate Jean-Eric Vergne, who suggested at the start of the season he would easily beat you…
DR:
Well, at the start of the season we both had a lot of confidence because after one year in Formula One you definitely gain something. It is hard to explain, but you do. It is that sort of confidence that you get when you feel that you’ve learned a lot. That goes for the two of us…

Q: … but he was probably a touch more confident…
DR:
…maybe. But, of course, the battle is not won yet - there is still a long way to go, though I think I am quite good at maintaining a steady performance.

Q: You look much fitter than you did last season. The ‘puppy fat’ seems to have given way to muscle…
DR:
Ha, the older you get - and the more you travel - the more you start to understand what your body needs in regards to time zones and physical demands, so I’ve modified the training a bit. When you are young you think that training every day is the best thing for you - that if you train every day you get stronger. But that is not always the case. That you learn when you get older and wiser! (laughs) It is important to let the body rest, so I’ve made some changes to the training regime - and it is helping. I remember Monaco last year: I was not so well - probably over-trained and a bit run down - but that is history. I feel much better now - and I think it shows on the race track.

Q: What if Red Bull Racing knock at your door? How likely do you think that is?
DR:
I will open the door - and probably offer them a Red Bull - and start talking.

Q: Are you ready? What has to happen over the course of this season for your answer to be a firm yes?
DR:
I am ready. But I also don’t want to jump into things. Right now I am with Toro Rosso and will do my best here. Should there be any knocking, I am ready.

Q: The normal policy at Toro Rosso is to give their youngsters two years to prove their worth. For you that is at the end of this season, so you have to start thinking…
DR:
…I know, and I fully agree with that. One year is definitely not enough to see the potential of a young driver, but after two years it should show whether you have it or not. Two years should be enough. You can’t ask for more.

Q: Toro Rosso brought major updates to Barcelona. It’s almost a new car. Are you satisfied with how everything feels?
DR:
Well, not everything worked as planned, but a lot did. Some things were really good, like the floor and the exhaust. We were a bit concerned about the reliability, but that was fine as the car was strong and reliable. But I think we still need to understand a bit more. Qualifying was good, but during the race - especially at the start with high fuel and then at the end with low fuel - we started to understand a bit more what the car is doing and we have to build on this new information. Last season it didn’t matter so much if the car was on high or low fuel - it didn’t change much. We know now that we have to be a bit more reactive this year because we can now make a difference. If we react in the right way it is faster.

Q: Sounds like using the brain is what’s needed…
DR:
Yep. It’s a bit harder work, but we are getting rewarded for it. (laughs)

Q: Is this the car that will propel your career upwards, as there will not be so many updates from now on because of the big changes in 2014…
DR:
I guess so. Compared to this time last year there is much more potential in the car. We are coming to a race now and know that if we do a good Friday and prepare the car well we can race for points on Sunday. Last year we relied a bit more on luck. So the tools are there to get points. We are not quick enough to win - yet - but we are getting closer.

Q: Monaco is a far cry from virtually every other track on the calendar. It’s your second outing here in a Formula One car. How are you going about the challenge?
DR:
Sunday I am hungry for points - more than one point. I think if we get into the top ten, that’s great, but tenth is not enough here. I want to be a bit greedy and go out to bag some more points.

Q: Qualifying is crucial here - more than at any other track. In Barcelona you almost made it into Q3. What about here?
DR:
Well, Monaco is probably the only track where the race happens on Saturday. If you qualify in the top ten you are more or less there. I believe I have the skills to go to Q3 here. Keep fingers crossed and let’s see what happens. My guess is that most will look for a one pit stop strategy. Two stops should be realistic, but one stop is faster as track position is everything in Monaco.

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