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Daniel Ricciardo Q&A: Verstappen applying positive pressure

29 Sep 2016

Daniel Ricciardo had everyone holding their breath last time out in Singapore, as he came desperately close to catching race winner Nico Rosberg in the closing corners of the final lap. Ricciardo doesn’t expect such a strong chance of victory in Malaysia this weekend - even if Max Verstappen has forced him to up his game of late, following the Dutch youngster’s mid-season arrival as his new Red Bull team mate…

Q: Daniel, was Singapore your best shot at a race win this season? Or is there still hope for other occasions?

Daniel Ricciardo: I don’t think right now, ‘Oh boy, why haven’t I won a race so far this season?’ I think it can still happen. But on the other hand, yes, Singapore was an exceptional chance - probably our best shot, yes. I am still confident that we can still pull something out. (Laughs) I have faith! Sure, I feel that I have deserved a victory this year, but I am also sure that there is no one up there who is going to give it to me. But getting back to Singapore, it was great fun and I enjoyed battling with the Mercedes. It was a good race and not heart-breaking not to win. I did what I could.

Q: How do you deal with driving so well but not getting the results you probably deserve?

DR: Nothing beats winning - and I want to win - that is for sure. But it is also satisfying on a race weekend knowing that I have done everything possible from my side. I am definitely satisfied with that. Yes, the win is the cherry on the top - a nice cherry, though. Maybe in Austria and Silverstone I was a bit down after the race, but besides those actually every race Sunday I felt pretty happy. I haven’t won Monaco - and still I was happy with how I drove.

Q: Is your focus changing when you know you can’t win?

DR: No, because my performance is recognized by the team. They see more than the outside. They recognize if you gain the most out of a race - the outside only sees that you haven’t won. Yes, I want to get a win, but I also feel that  up until now I have pretty much delivered.

Q: In the past your career path has gone steadily gone upwards. Now one might argue that it’s flat. How do you cope with that?

DR: Well, the only moment when I can remember being disappointed was the first half of 2015 when - after an incredible 2014 - things didn’t progress the way that I wanted. So yes, probably I was struggling a bit not to get podiums last year, but 2016 I definitely feel the upward trend - also probably because I have learned to drive around problems better. Now I really appreciate the feeling that the car is getting better - and that I still feel enjoyment. You want to win every race, but of course you can’t win every race - even if you are sitting in a Mercedes. (Laughs) So yes, I do enjoy a fifth place, like in Monza for example, as I felt it was a good race.

Q: Has Max Verstappen’s arrival stung at all? Perhaps his win in Barcelona?

DR: Well, that was probably a step up in my personal career. Up until the point when Max arrived I thought that I was pretty much driving up to my limit - but now I know that I can do a little bit more. But that also goes for him. We both stepped up.

Q: Was there any nervousness from your side when Max joined Red Bull Racing? It was a very unusual act to bring a new driver into a team just four races into a season…

DR: As I just said before, we both lifted our game - and that was to the gain of the team. When you get a new team mate it is always exciting as there is a new challenge. Had he come to the team and ‘kicked my ass’ for 10 races in a row, my career would probably be running south - but that didn’t happen. So it is still curiosity, but of course also pressure - but in an exciting way. When I saw him in the first practice in Barcelona I could already see that he was on the limit with the car, so I knew that this was going to be exciting. Before, when I raced alongside Seb (Vettel) I knew that if I outperformed him - a four-time world champion - it would definitely be good for my career. And if I could get on top of Max - the new kid on the block - that would have another significance. But from what we have seen of what Max is capable of, it is a pretty equal situation.

Q: You said before that the team knows more about your performance than the outside world. What can they read from the data they are looking at?

DR: You can look at the braking phase of a driver, the way they modulate the braking. That can make a difference. One driver might stay too long on the brake pedal while another lifts the blink of an eye earlier and gets through the corner cleaner. That is one example of what the team can read out of the data.

Q: What about this weekend then?

DR: From the first view it’s probably not our shot at a win - unless it rains, and then it is a whole different ball game. And I love ball games! (Laughs)