Ricciardo: We’re confident with what we’ve got
Daniel Ricciardo reckons he is in good shape to make a decent impression when he and Red Bull Racing arrive in Melbourne for the season-opening 2016 Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix on March 20.
After the first of two four-day pre-season tests in Spain, the big-grinning Perth racer told the media he felt confident and “in a good place” ahead of the Albert Park event.
“I think we’re confident with what we’ve got,” said the Aussie, who gave a solid showing at the Circuit de Catalunya, near Barcelona last week.
He and the rest of the F1 circus are due back in Spain for the second and final test starting Tuesday.
“Reliability was pretty good, which is nice. I think we got pretty much 200 laps across my two days and I’m happy with that… The car feels pretty good and it’s nice to get back in. I think we’ve set a good rhythm from quite early on and it’s good for me to get into that.”
“Normally, you’ve already done groundwork with the car, but this time, it was straight into it for us and I’m happy. The team’s positive, we’re all feeling like we’re in a good place.
“We didn’t expect to set the world on fire during the first part of the season, but I think we’re on schedule now to be in a good position. We’ll see where we end up in Melbourne…”
Ricciardo’s optimism ahead of the new season contrasted to a widespread sense of déjà vu after a bullet-proof demonstration of reliability last week by word champions Mercedes.
Ricciardo reckons that his reliability, and an improved starting point compared to 12 months ago, are crucial factors, but they pale compared to the Mercedes’ showing.
The champion team managed 675 laps in the opening four days at Barcelona, more than 200 clear of nearest rival Toro Rosso.
“That is already a big warning to the rest of us for the season,” said Williams’ driver Brazilian Felipe Massa. “That, along with what they did in the last two years, and how they finished the season, and the car they have, and with the same rules….
“It is a warning whatever the situation. What they’re doing on the track definitely shows they’re going to be very, very strong again.”
Massa and the rest – including our Dan – may be glad of some help from Ecclestone’s shake-up by the time the opening races of the season has unfolded.
“It’s not what I wanted in the end,” said a disappointed Ecclestone, who has also talked of bring in time penalties to add confusion.
“All I’m trying to do is muddle up the grid, so that the guy that is quickest in qualifying doesn’t sit on pole and disappear…”
At the 2014 Australian Grand Prix, his debut race in the senior Red Bull team, Ricciardo finished second and celebrated heartily in front of his delighted home crowd. However shortly afterwards he was stripped of his second place and disqualified for a fuel flow infringement.
Thus the records show that the big smiling Aussie has yet to ‘officially’ finish on the podium in his home race.