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Daniel Ricciardo Q&A: Vettel my Sepang benchmark

27 Mar 2014

A fuel discrepancy may have cost him 18 points in Melbourne, but nothing can take away the confidence provided by Daniel Ricciardo’s epic Australian weekend, where he made a highly impressive Red Bull debut. Now Ricciardo wants team mate Sebastian Vettel to have an untroubled time in Malaysia so that he can see exactly how he stacks up against the four-time champion. The Australian spoke to the assembled media at Sepang on Thursday…

Q: Daniel, tell us a little bit of your feelings after the Australian Grand Prix?

Daniel Ricciardo: From my side I really feel proud how the weekend went, and whatever happened afterwards was not in my control. I am very happy with how I approached that weekend, and how the team performed, especially coming out of a rather bumpy Bahrain testing. So all in all it was very promising. Whether or not I get the 18 points, it has given me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season. I somehow still feel that I came in second, and I stood up on that podium and that feeling was great, and I carry that with me hoping that I will be there again soon. I think that there is a chance that we’ll get the points back, but what that chance is I don’t know.

Q: Is there any strategy for how to deal with this particular topic in the future within the team?

DR: I don’t really know, to be honest. I guess the team will do whatever they have to, to keep everyone necessary happy. No one had the intention from our side for that to happen. I personally took a lot more positives from the Melbourne race than that little negative. I still see it as a very successful weekend after all.

Q: Which situation would you prefer to be in now - Jenson Button’s of being promoted to the podium, or yours of having been disqualified afterwards?

DR: For now I probably prefer mine, as it was the first time for me being on the podium in Formula One, and I enjoyed every single moment standing up there in front of my home crowd. I did believe beforehand that I would be able to do it, but when you really do it then it gives you the sense of satisfaction and confidence. Even if I am not getting the points back, I have gained the confidence that I can do it again. Also it gave the team a lot of confidence in me, as they saw that I could race up the front, which is a good feeling for the rest of the season as well.

Q: Was your pace and that of the RB10 a surprise for you, given the rather weak results from winter testing?

DR: It was actually quite surprising. We knew that if we were reliable, we could be within the top ten, but did not think that we would be that far inside the top ten. Of course we saw that Sebastian (Vettel) had some problems on Saturday and Sunday in Melbourne, and I hope that we will have an even playing field this coming weekend in Malaysia, so that I can also really see where I am.

Q: Given that your team will presumably follow the FIA regulations in full now, do you believe that you will also be able to fight for podiums at the coming races?

DR: I strongly believe so. From my point of view there is Mercedes quite a bit ahead of us, but at least we are in the second group that is trying to close up the gap to them. Hopefully we can manage to work ourselves to the front of that group and consistently fight for podiums.

Q: What do you see as the most important area for improvement to close in on the Mercedes-powered teams?

DR: We know that we are still a bit down on power, and the Mercedes seem to be pretty strong on the straights. Also managing the fuel was a bit unique, especially looking at the beginning of the last stint, where I was in a fuel saving mode, and Kevin (Magnussen) was rather on full attack. He basically caught up within one or two laps, but I could defend my position, and then he had to save fuel towards the end of the race and I was able to pull away. So on this we still have quite a bit to learn on how to do it in the most efficient way. But overall it is also fun and it keeps us more busy in the cockpit, as this is another obstacle that we have to overcome to be able to win. Also I have heard good news from the factory, and I hope that Renault was able to put a few more horses into our car, so that we are able to be stronger on the straights.

Q: What is your opinion on the sound of the new engine formula?

DR: Formula One has changed quite dramatically, and the sound is quite a bit different, and is not what it used to be. But I have heard both positives and negatives amongst my friends. Some say that they really like the noise of the new turbos, and some really miss the scream of the old engines. At the end of the day we might as well get used to the new sound, although maybe we can put a bigger exhaust on the car and hear the engine roar a little bit more. (laughs)