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Daniel Ricciardo Q&A: Early signs point to 'great' season

03 Mar 2016

After well-documented problems in 2015, Red Bull appear to have started the new season in far more promising fashion - and Daniel Ricciardo is convinced things will only get better. From the team's hopes for Australia to their plans for a major update - and from his battle with Daniil Kvyat to whether his seat is under threat from Max Verstappen or Carlos Sainz - the three-time grand prix winner discusses why everyone in the team is enthusiastic about their prospects for 2016...

Q: Daniel, is there anything positive to report from Red Bull Racing?

Daniel Ricciardo: Ha, of course! We've done many more laps than probably the last two years of winter testing (laughs). We are in a lot better position than 12 months ago. If we can start in a good position then we can end the season in a great position. That is what I honestly believe. We will develop really well this year and have a lot more promise ahead of us.

Q: Last year's engine was a bit low on power and had reliability issues. Is that all history?

DR: To be honest at the moment we've made a little bit of a progress from last year - but it's not a massive step. It is enough to get the season started and I guess that by the start of the European round we should have a good step forward. There is no friction or anything like that anymore within the team and with our partners - so that should all point into the direction of a good season. From my side it is all looking like it should be: smooth and with the outlook of making good progress! 

Q: Red Bull have often had the best chassis in recent year - does that also go for the 2016 car? Will that be enough to fend off all the Mercedes and Ferrari powered teams?

DR: Yes, we have a super car. And it looks awesomely aggressive...

Q: ...but aggressive looks don't add horsepower. Isn't the engine still the decisive factor?

DR: Well, I feel that this season it won't be the case as much. I think we've already shown last year, when we were down quite a lot of horsepower, that we could still have some remarkable races: if Austin had stayed wet I probably would have won the race, and in Budapest and Singapore we were on the podium. So it's not always en engine championship. On pure horsepower we should be closer this season - and circuits like Monza and or Spa shouldn't be as damaging for us.

Q: What's the biggest difference between the 2015 package and this year?

DR: The car itself is pretty similar in terms of the philosophy. Of course we have a new front wing and other bits and pieces - while on the power unit side it is pretty much a re-development from last year. And then after five or six races we will have the big step forward.

Q: 2016 will be a crucial year for you and Daniil Kvyat: the Toro Rosso youngsters are unmistakably knocking on Red Bull's door and Franz Tost said that the normal procedure will be that his best youngster will get promoted to a Red Bull cockpit. Does that leave you and Daniil in a shoot-out situation?

DR: To be honest every season is a shoot-out in some ways. Yes, this is my third year at Red Bull Racing and Daniil's second season - and we know that the Toro Rosso juniors always push up to Red Bull Racing. Remember Daniil and I have gone the same route so we know the concept - but this goes for every other team as well, there is always somebody who comes through! I am confident though.

Q: So are you expecting one driver to be promoted from Toro Rosso - and one Red Bull driver to depart?

DR: That all depends on the season. Remember: you are only ever as good as your last result! If Daniil and I are even - and Max and Carlos are too - then it will boil down do a tricky decision. But if I dominate Daniil and Max dominates Carlos - as an example - then I would say something is going to happen.

Q: How much does it help that you are already a race winner?

DR: It helps me. The confidence that I took from all that means a lot - also in terms of respect that I've got from the team and from the other drivers. I think my place in the sport is a bit more consolidated. But in saying that: if I have a bad year that is all waste paper.

Q: It will also be a crucial year for Red Bull. Helmut Marko clearly expressed that he wants to see the number 3 in the constructors' championship. Is that feasible?

DR: I think it is feasible. Where we are on track right now I think we are pretty close and my guess is that we get stronger as the season goes on. P3 is a realistic target!