Daniel Ricciardo has accepted that he will need to show more aggression in 2012 if he is to take full advantage of his promotion to the Toro Rosso line-up.
With the Red bull-backed team not renowned for its patience with its drivers, the Australian acknowledged that, while he made a competent F1 debut with backmarker HRT in 2011, he needs to up the ante somewhat now that he had a mid-grid seat to justify. Ricciardo was announced as one of two new STR signings, along with World Series by Renault runner-up Jean-Eric Vergne, shortly before Christmas, with the previous line-up of Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi dumped despite leading the team to seventh in the constructors' standings.
"I honestly believe I did a good enough job this year to be somewhere on the grid, and that was the feeling I got from all the big guys at Red Bull," he revealed to Australia's AAP
, "There were definitely some positive moments which kept them happy."
Ricciardo, who Red Bull parachuted into the HRT line-up in order to gain experience, did well to match - and occasionally surpass - experienced team-mate Tonio Liuzzi in his half-season, but admits that he will need to change his approach now that he has a full-time seat.
"I know I've got [the right approach], but it's probably not consistent enough and, at F1 [level] now, it has to be as good as it can be," the 22-year old accepted, "I think my actual starts are okay, the initial reaction off the line is fine, but a few times this year I got a good start and jumped the car off the line but maybe didn't go hard enough into the first corner or went for the safer inside line. I probably need a little bit more aggression, which I guess will come with experience at this level."
With all due respect to Liuzzi, Ricciardo expects Vergne to present a tougher challenge as team-mate in 2012, and reckons the Frenchman could provide the added impetus to be more aggressive.
"He's got potential and he's quick," the Australian, who partnered Vergne at Tech1 in WSbR in 2010, acknowledged, "We drive quite similar, but he has probably what I don't have in the aggressive side, so maybe I can learn from him.
"There were more races this year where I think I had better pace than Tonio, [and] I think [the Pirelli tyres] suit my style. Definitely, at Silverstone, I had very little idea [about how they'd behave], and that was shown in the pace but, from then on, I learnt very quickly. It can sometimes be frustrating when they fall off a cliff and you're going four seconds a lap slower but, most of the time, I was making them last longer than my team-mate."