Daniel Ricciardo remains firmly in the frame as a potential replacement for Mark Webber should his fellow Australian decide to walk away from Red Bull Racing – and, potentially, F1 – at the end of the 2013 season, but admits that he still needs to prove himself.
The Toro Rosso driver faces rivals both from within the Red Bull development structure – such as team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne and WSbR star Antonio Felix da Costa – and elsewhere on the F1 grid, such as Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen, but insists that he can only do his best with the equipment at his disposal. That currently translates to just two finishes from four races in 2013, but the first of those was the sort of stand-out performance that Ricciardo knows he needs to produce on a regular basis.
“What they've always expected from us juniors, since I started in the junior team a few years ago now, [is] just to maximise our equipment, to show some signs of being a potential winner, a potential champion and just to make the most out of what we've got,” he confirmed, “I definitely felt, in China, that was achieved, but doing it once isn't really going to stick for 19 races. It's got to happen more often.
“I think it's along those lines really, just to maximise it and get some good results like I did there. I want more now, definitely… not only for them, but for me.”
Like its rivals, STR plans to bring performance upgrades to the first European round, in Barcelona, this weekend, and Ricciardo is keen to see if they can help move him up the order.
“I'd like to be able to do more,” he admitted, “I think seventh was the best we could have done in China and, obviously, the week after wasn't anywhere near what we showed in China, but that's probably where we were at that time.
“We've brought some updates this weekend – along with probably every other team – so we have to see now which direction it favours. Hopefully, it can push us further up the front. We'll have to see, but I think for us [the goal is] to just try to get some more top tens more consistently.
“It was great to have a one-off good result, but we want to finish in the points more often. We'll see what we've got this weekend - we're all excited to see how much of a gain we make. Hopefully, the others haven't made any big gains.”