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Ricciardo 'surprised' by 2014 breakthrough

09 Dec 2014

Daniel Ricciardo has admitted that the success of his 2014 breakthrough season took him by surprise after he finished third overall and emerged as the only non-Mercedes driver to win in what was his first campaign with Red Bull.

Ricciardo captured his first Formula One victory in a dramatic finish in Canada, and then prevailed again in Hungary and Belgium - the only three occasions on which Mercedes were beaten to victory. That record meant the Australian also had the edge on team mate and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, whom he will replace as Red Bull's lead driver in 2015.

"I think this year was a big step forward in my career, a big step in the direction I wanted it to go in," he reflected at the annual FIA Prize-Giving Gala. "Obviously the Mercedes were dominant, but I was able to score the only other three wins of the season, so that was a big year for me.

"Deep down I always believed that I could do it and that if I had the equipment and the opportunity I could do it - but looking back on it, looking at Mercedes domination and for me to be the only driver that broke that, that surprised me a little bit.

"I won't settle for anything else now. Once you make one step you want to keep making more. I'm sure Mercedes are going to very quick again next year, but the gap's there for us to close. Hopefully we can do that."

Along with his victories, Ricciardo has won a new army of fans for his relaxed and jovial nature - something he believes is an essential part of his F1 achievements.

"If you want to be successful at anything in life the primary thing is you have to enjoy it; I think it's the core of it," he explained. "You have to have fun doing it. It can't be someone else's dream, it's got to be yours.

"I wouldn't say it's something I've planned in terms of a strategic move, it's just who I am. Obviously it helps in a lot of ways. I think it relieves a lot of the tension and stress that surrounds the sport a lot of the time. It's intense, so to have this light-hearted approach makes it easier to handle and manage.

"This year I put it down to that - I had the most fun I've ever had in a race car and the results came. When I'm in the car it's serious - I treat it with 100 percent seriousness. After that just have fun.

"You look at the big picture: be grateful. All my friends back home in Australia would love to have my job, so even on your bad days you have to look at the big picture and just be grateful for it."