20 April 2014
Chinese F1 Grand Prix: Daniel Ricciardo - Exclusive Q&A
Daniel Ricciardo speaks exclusively to Crash.net after qualifying in China about his start to the season
First of all, well done on second in qualifying; what's the feeling? Is that exceeding expectations being ahead of one of the Mercedes'?
I don't know, I guess I don't really have too many expectations. I knew we could be quick in the wet so I wasn't really sure what to expect from qualy. It is nice to get both cars head of one at least; the ideal target is to at one stage be in front of both of them but to split it is good. Obviously Hamilton still has a pretty big gap but as far as I'm concerned I got the most out of at least my car today in that last lap so I'm pretty pleased.
And how about the race; is there any added pressure on chasing what would now be your first podium even though you thought you'd got that off your back in Australia?
Definitely not any added pressure. I think getting the first one out of the way – even though it obviously got taken off me – took a lot of weight off of my shoulders and doing it at home as well was a bit of a double whammy. I'm sure if the opportunity is there tomorrow I'll probably be a bit more comfortable about it and hopefully we can get it up there; that's really the plan.
I know you weren't at the appeal on Monday – you said you were going to focus on this race – but a rival team was there pushing for a harsher punishment for the team. Does it surprise you to see the team getting targeted so much?
To be honest it doesn't really surprise me. I've learned what F1 is like and it is an extremely competitive sport on and off the track. You've sort of got to expect these things as well, some people say it's not the nicest thing in the world but we're all competing against each other and everyone is fighting for a world title essentially, so it is what it is.
Obviously that result was taken away from you but it was a strong start to the season. You haven't quite matched that high since then but it seems to have been a good start for you, how would you sum it up so far?
Yeah, I'm really pleased with the first few races. For me it was just about making sure that I got off on the right foot and came out swinging so to speak and not being too tentative. So I think I've come in to the team and shown everyone that I'm happy and here to race at the front and enjoying it more than everything. I think they've seen that and I've gained a bit of respect for that and it will just help me in the long run.
As a new driver coming in to one of the top teams, did you feel like you had a point to prove?
I guess not really to myself – I believe in myself – but to people you always feel that you're always going to have people that doubt you. Not that that bothers me really, but it is nice to just show everyone that they made the right decision. Even just to show Red Bull; I think there was [Fernando] Alonso and [Kimi] Raikkonen fighting pretty hard for the seat so it's nice to at least show them that they made a good decision. It helps us all out!
Coming in alongside Seb; where do you think you've matched up in terms of your strengths and weaknesses against him?
Obviously I've come out and started off pretty good. I think we've been back and forth a little bit in both conditions as well – dry and wet – I wouldn't say there's a trend or anything appearing yet. I'd just say it's been a good fight so far. Okay, Melbourne is obviously hard to say as Seb wasn't really taking part in the race but in Malaysia he had the better of me in the race in terms of pace and Bahrain I had the better pace. It's still been a bit up and down but I think we're giving each other what we wanted and that's a good fight.
Was it hard not to have preconceptions of how that relationship was going to be? Obviously the whole thing with Mark [Webber] was played out quite publically so as much as you try to ignore it it was always in your face how that went…
I think it was played out a bit and it was what it was, but at the same time I had no concerns or fears, basically because that's someone else's relationship and it has got really nothing to do with me. So I wasn't concerned at all because it's natural that not everyone likes everyone, some people don't get on. Just because Mark's Australian it doesn't mean that I'm automatically going to have a problem with Seb. It wasn't anything like that; it wasn't a country conflict! So I wasn't concerned and so far there have been no incidents, no issues. We've actually got on really well and I think we've actually had a lot of respect for each other. On and off the track it's been really good and as I said I think we're both pushing each other the way we wanted.
Is there quite a positive relationship then between the two of you? When you've got the fact that you're similar in ages and you've come through the same system, do you think that's working in your favour as a partnership?
Yeah, I think so. We've definitely got a few things in common with that and coming through. In age I think we're nearly exactly two years apart, so it's a pretty small gap with that. And I'm actually the young one; he's the old one for once! Away from the track we talk about things and stuff we have in common, whether it's riding bikes in the hills or whatever, so it's pretty cool. We know relationships in this sport, it's very hard to have a really great relationship. No-one is your best friend really but for a racing team-mate I think we've kicked off really well.
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