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Christian Horner Q&A: No honeymoon period for Ricciardo 05 Sep 2013

Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Hungaroring, Hungary. Saturday, 27 July 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, Thursday, 5 September 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One Young Drivers Test, Silverstone, England, Day Two, Thursday, 18 July 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, Thursday, 5 September 2013 Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal and Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 14 March 2013 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 24 August 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race Day, Hungaroring, Hungary. Sunday, 28 July 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso talks with the media.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, Thursday, 5 September 2013

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner faced a barrage of questions from the Monza media on Thursday following this week’s announcement that it will be Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo replacing Mark Webber alongside Sebastian Vettel next season. What does Horner expect of the young Australian? That he fits in and develops fast…

Q: Christian, will the huge changes of 2014 make it even more difficult for Daniel to fit into the big Red Bull Racing shoes?
Christian Horner:
Well, the new rules will certainly complicate it - but these rumours that Daniel would not fit into the car were absolutely fictional. It is definitely a new challenge for him, but all drivers are starting from zero. Daniel is an intelligent lad who has won championships before in other series, so it is a calculated risk that we’ve taken as he has all the attributes to shine in the future.

Q: Is it true that he has a three-year contract?
CH:
We never speak about contracts. Let me just say this: it’s more than one year and less than ten.

Q: Was money an issue in taking Daniel? For Kimi Raikkonen you definitely would have had to dig deeper into your pockets…
CH:
Money was never an issue, never a factor in the decision. We wanted to have the right pairing in the car. True, Formula One in 2014 is expensive enough, but it was never a determining factor for us.

Q: Daniel is known for his nice personality - was that a decisive factor?
CH:
Let me say one thing: you might be the nicest person in the world, but if you are not quick it doesn’t help - not in Formula One. Yes, he has a nice personality - I have hardly seen him without a smile - but, and this is important, he has a very good natural speed and he has a very good feeling for the car, which means that he has all the attributes to succeed. But, of course, time will tell because it is a difficult job as he is going against Sebastian Vettel - and to be measured against that is enormously difficult for any driver. I think Daniel will be able to learn a great deal from being alongside Seb. He already had a taste of how Seb operates when he was our third driver and I am sure in the future he will inhale everything that he can from being paired with a three-time champion.

Q: Do you see Daniel as another version of Seb when he left Toro Rosso to join Red Bull Racing? Is history repeating itself?
CH:
It is impossible to compare different times. Toro Rosso had a near identical chassis to the Red Bull car when Seb was making the switch and his talent was obvious. We signed him in Hockenheim that year - before he won the race in the wet here in Monza. There is rain in the forecast for Sunday, so who knows - maybe history repeats itself. Fact is that you cannot compare them in terms of the equipment that they had before joining Red Bull Racing. But Daniel has a very strong team mate with Jean-Eric [Vergne] who is constantly pushing him, so the signs are there. I think it is an investment in youth that Red Bull has committed to over the years and has provided that opportunity on merit to Daniel as we always said that we want the best two drivers and there was never a prerequisite that it has to be a Red Bull junior driver if he is not good enough.

Q: Jean-Eric has less experience than Daniel, true, but has scored more points to date. So why didn’t you choose him?
CH:
We thought that Daniel would be the better choice at this point in time. Jean-Eric is a very fast driver and developing very well, but faced with the choice and looking at the information we had, we selected Daniel. Not an easy decision - and I am sure Jean-Eric will continue to develop.

Q: What was it that made the difference?
CH:
At the end of the day you look at several factors - speed, feedback, development - and we felt that Daniel merited this opportunity. Daniel is at the beginning of his career and he will be getting stronger and grow - and, of course, only time can tell how good he can be. Our job is to give him the opportunity and platform to demonstrate that. He will have the same opportunity as Sebastian. We are delighted over our 2014 driver line-up, as we think it is the best that we could think of.

Q: What do you expect from Daniel?
CH:
That he develops fast. He has the benefit of knowing this team - he’s been close as a third driver, test driver, simulator driver - so he knows a lot of the engineering staff and engineering practices. He knows how we operate and what is expected from a Grand Prix driver at Red Bull Racing. He will not need a ‘honeymoon period’ to get to know each other. He knows us intimately - and that will make a huge difference. At least that is what we - and he - expect.

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