Daniel Ricciardo says he feels 'more confident' as a driver ahead of the 2013 F1 season, with the Australian hoping for a strong campaign with Toro Rosso.
Ricciardo endured a tough first full season in the sport last year as his Italian team struggled to get the most from its car but shows flashes of his talent – such as in Bahrain where he was able to qualify sixth only to slip back down the field after a poor start.
However, the 23-year-old impressed many with his performances over the course of the campaign and he said confidence was high about the year ahead.
“The 2013 version of me is a more confident person and driver, with more self-belief than last year,” he said. “I've always had the desire and determination to succeed and now I'm ready to reinforce that and let everyone see what I'm all about.
“I spent most of the winter Down Under and when I came back into the factory in Faenza, I could feel a very positive atmosphere with everyone excited about the new car. The target for us this year is very simple: to improve on last year. We want to make a big step forward and we have to get back among the teams we should be fighting with.”
Ricciardo will have a new engineer in the shape of Marco Matassa for 2013, with the former HRT driver looking forward to starting the partnership in this week's Jerez test.
“I have a new race engineer for this year, but it's not a step into the unknown as he used to be my data engineer and he ran me in Austin and Sao Paolo last year so it's not like we haven't worked together yet,” he said. “The six days I will spend in the cockpit for pre-season testing should be enough time to get a good relationship going and I'm looking forward to it as an exciting new challenge.
“As to who my main rivals will be, you have to treat all the other drivers as competitors and I can't single out anyone in particular. My main rival is probably myself because at times, a driver can be his own worst enemy! Testing's fine, but I'm really looking forward to Melbourne: starting the season at your home race means more pressure, but having more fans is a positive pressure and a good thing.”