Despite a slight slip in form for Daniel Ricciardo in recent races, Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner insists that he has had no doubts or second thoughts over signing the Aussie for next season.
Ricciardo went head to head with Kimi Raikkonen for undoubtedly the best seat on the 2014 grid and was announced as Sebastian Vettel’s 2014 team-mate in early September.
When asked by the official Formula 1 website if he would make the same decision again now, Horner said: “Absolutely. Without a shadow of a doubt! Daniel’s performances have continued to impress us with the equipment that he has at his disposal.”
Ricciardo completed testing for both Red Bull and Toro Rosso in the summer at the Silverstone Young Driver Test. He obviously impressed: “The determining factor was the test that he did for us at Silverstone, as well as the background knowledge that we have of him, whether from the simulator or previous testing he has conducted for the team.”
He added: “He has a huge amount of natural speed and a great deal of talent. The only thing he lacks is experience. We have been considering our options for next year for a long time and we all firmly believe that Daniel is the right man for us.”
Mark Webber will leave F1 at the end of the season and with significant rule changes coming into force next year, would Horner have preferred the 37-year-olds experience heading in to a new and unknown era?
“Well, the timing was right for Mark to decide to leave and I think it is a natural timing with a big regulation change to have a change in the driver line-up,” he replied. “The racing next year will be very different to the racing this year – and drivers and teams will have to adapt. So it’s a clean sheet of paper for everybody and it doesn’t really matter so much how many years a driver has under his belt.”
Meanwhile Ricciardo can’t wait to race against newly crowned four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, saying after the Indian Grand Prix: “Four times in a row – phenomenal! At the start of the season it looked like it could be anyone’s title shot but from the summer he’s not let anyone even look at the trophy.
“He’s just ran away with it. It’s very impressive and I can’t wait to have the best in the world as my team mate. That’s the real challenge and an opportunity for me to see how good I am. Hopefully I’ll be giving him a tough run for his money.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic