With Mark Webber's F1 future once again uncertain, countryman Daniel Ricciardo is doing everything he can to ensure that he is noticed by Red Bull for 2014.
The fall-out from Malaysia's 'Multi21' saga continues to suggest that Webber's time with RBR will come to an end after November's Brazilian Grand Prix, and the list of potential replacements is already several names deep. While Kimi Raikkonen continues to be the most thought-provoking inclusion, Ricciardo knows that a good 2013 campaign could be enough to transform his F1 prospects.
The younger Australian shone on occasion in his first full year with Toro Rosso in 2012, and has already racked up an impressive seventh place in April's Chinese Grand Prix this season. Arriving in Monaco on the back of a feisty tenth in Barcelona, he will be looking to make the most of STR's latest upgrade package to add to his tally in a race where unpredictability counts for a lot.
“Not everything worked as planned, but a lot did,” Ricciardo told the official F1 website, “Some things were really good, like the floor and the exhaust. We were a bit concerned about the reliability, but that was fine as the car was strong and reliable. I think we still need to understand a bit more. Last season, it didn't matter so much if the car was on high or low fuel - it didn't change much – but we know now that we have to be a bit more reactive this year because we can make a difference. If we react in the right way, it is faster.
“Compared to this time last year, there is much more potential in the car. We are coming to a race now and know that, if we do a good Friday and prepare the car well, we can race for points on Sunday. Last year, we relied a bit more on luck. The tools are there to get points. We are not quick enough to win - yet - but we are getting closer.”
Having gained his seat at Toro Rosso at the expense of Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi, both of whom were ousted after two mediocre years, Ricciardo knows that he cannot afford to lower his guard.
“I know [that two years are up this season], and I fully agree with that,” he revealed, “One year is definitely not enough to see the potential of a young driver but, after two years, it should show whether you have it or not. Two years should be enough. You can't ask for more.
“I'll keep on doing what I am doing and not get distracted by things outside my job. I don't read many things that are written about me, so I keep a cool head. When I am away from the races, I usually train and don't think too much about racing. And when I come to a race venue I am fully committed. That procedure has worked well for me for the last couple of years so I will continue doing it.”
Of course, the breaks could go both ways, and further good performances may see him leaving Toro Rosso for the right reasons.
“I am ready,” Ricciardo insisted when asked about the possibility of replacing countryman Webber at Red Bull, “But I don't want to jump into things. Right now, I am with Toro Rosso and will do my best here. However, should there be any knocking [on the door], I am ready.”