He scored a podium on his debut for the team in Australia, but it was taken away from him through no fault of his own. He then retired in Malaysia, but scored two impressive fourth place finishes in Bahrain and China.
He raced to third place at the last round in Spain, but this time he got to keep the podium result and his trophy. The 24-year-old has qualified ahead of his team-mate Sebastian Vettel three times and in the races that both Red Bulls have finished, Ricciardo has been ahead in all of them.
Some expected the Aussie to drown alongside the four-time champion. When asked by the official Formula 1 website if he has been surprised by how well his 2014 season has gone, he said: “I knew that it was going to be a big challenge – but I was ready for it. So of course I am pleased with how it’s going – and now I just have to continue. Sure, the start I’ve had has been nice – really nice.
“For my confidence it was of course good to see that I’m on the same level as Seb – that was pretty good for me. But it’s not only Seb – it is the whole rest of the field. To be in the top three in qualifying at most of the races – and to fight up there on the front – that’s pretty cool. Of course I plan to keep the situation as it is now, but that will be quite hard work.”
Asked why he has been able to get more out of the new Red Bull RB10 in comparison to his team-mate, he replied: “I don’t think our cars are hugely different – I think that F1 is completely different this year. The car is pretty difficult to get used to – and maybe I have adapted to the new conditions a bit quicker than Seb did.
“Seb had a car at the end of last year he was very comfortable with, so it might have taken him a little by surprise to have a more complex car this year – maybe. But I don’t really know. I don’t look into it too much. If I am beating him I am happy. He had a good race in Barcelona so I am sure he is back onto his game now.”
Ricciardo added that he arrived at Red Bull Racing prior to the 2014 season “well prepared” and that he knew he wasn’t going to get blown away by the driver on the other side of the garage.
He finished third in first practice for the Monaco Grand Prix on Thursday morning, before setting the ninth fastest time in the quiet afternoon session.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic