In the wake of compatriot Mark Webber's announcement that he will be leaving F1 at the end of 2013, Daniel Ricciardo staked his claim to a drive in the senior Red Bull squad with a strong performance in qualifying for the British Grand Prix.
The 23-year-old Australian will start the eighth round in the 2013 F1 World Championship from sixth in his Toro Rosso and commented upon a welcome return to form at Silverstone after struggling in recent events.
“Coming off the back of a bad couple of races, I expected to be strong here and I was more motivated than ever. However, if I'd been told I could be sixth this afternoon, I would have been surprised,” he said.
“We showed good pace all weekend, including this morning when I was sixth, so it was nice to confirm that this afternoon. Now I am looking forward to the race when I hope I can come away with a good handful of points. I'd like to think I could finish at least in the same place I am starting from.”
Matching his best ever-qualifying, Ricciardo clearly has the potential for a strong result, and perhaps unsurprisingly he singled out tyres as a key determinant of his prospects in the race.
“I believe it will be a few degrees warmer tomorrow, which could make the track conditions change quite a lot,” he explained. “This is a very demanding circuit with lots of high speed corners, so the tyres don't get much of a rest, therefore tyre wear will be an important factor tomorrow.”
Ricciardo's team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne meanwhile will start thirteenth after just missing out on reaching the top ten shootout, but despite this setback the Frenchman remained positive when assessing his chances ahead of the race.
“I made a mistake on my quick lap in Q2 and I'm very upset about it, as it lost me the chance to get into Q3 which was definitely possible. As to what happened when I got it wrong, I am not exactly sure what was the reason: maybe I was too close to [Sebastian] Vettel in front of me, but I felt I lost downforce and then just went straight on,” he remarked.
“I am not looking for excuses. The car was working well, as it has done all weekend, so now I must make up for it in the race tomorrow.
“Looking at Daniel's performance this afternoon, it's a good sign as it shows the car is quick and we will have something to work with tomorrow afternoon. I think it's still feasible to have a good race tomorrow and to bring home points.”
by Philip Barclay