The Australian driver was announced as Mark Webber’s replacement at Red Bull Racing in September, but insists that he isn’t thinking too much about next season and has a strong end to 2013 firmly in his sights.
Talking in the official FIA driver press conference on Thursday he said: “Definitely still my main focus is on this year. Obviously aware of the competition I’ll be up against next year and slowly employing a few things to help me out for January and to settle in with the team but yeah, still very much focussed on the rest of the year with Toro Rosso.”
“I guess once the season’s over after Brazil I’ll make the conversion, start getting in the simulator and trying to figure out what makes Seb so quick and try to learn quickly,” he added.
The 24-year-old also commented on the amount of media attention that he has received since being announced as Sebastian Vettel’s team-mate for 2014. Asked if the attention has grown race-by-race, he said: “No, not really. I think around the time of the announcement it was pretty hectic with the media and everything but it’s nicely calmed down now. It’s good. I’m sure once I hop in the car next year it will probably rise again but it’s been a quiet few weeks. I had a bit of time to myself, which is good.”
Ricciardo made his Formula 1 debut in 2011 with the Spanish HRT outfit – thanks to Red Bull Racing’s financial boost to the struggling team in return for a race seat. He raced in the final 11 rounds of the 2011 season, including the inaugural Indian Grand Prix, before progressing to Toro Rosso for 2012.
When asked if, when he was at HRT, he could have ever imagined driving for Red Bull, he replied: “Seemed like a fair way away at the time but I think that going back years before that, since I got Red Bull supporting me and knowing what opportunities I had with them, then I think anything was possible. A lot of it was up to me,”
“With HRT, I knew there was a bit of a road to travel on, but yeah, it’s come along quite quickly, obviously to my delight and as I’ve said, I can’t wait but if you would have said, back in 2011, that I would be in a Red Bull seat in 2014 then I would have smiled and said ‘beauty.’”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic