Daniel Ricciardo insists that, if and when he is finally confirmed as Mark Webber's replacement at Red Bull
Racing, he will not be fazed by accusations that the team favours three-time world champion Sebastian Vettel.
While his views may be seen as a little naïve in some quarters, the Australian believes that there have only been isolated cases where Vettel's fortunes were put before the team's claims of equality for both drivers, and he will head to Milton Keynes expecting to get the same chances of success as the German.
"I guess I only know what you guys know - Malaysia this year, Silverstone a couple of years ago, but it's not something that I'm concerned with,” Ricciardo told Britain's Daily Telegraph
newspaper, “From what I hear, the team is very much interested in equality."
After a summer break where he emerged as most people's favourite to succeed Webber, Ricciardo had been expected to be confirmed at last week's Belgian Grand Prix, but Red Bull's decision to delay an announcement at least until Monza next weekend has led to speculation that other drivers – possibly Kimi Raikkonen
or Fernando Alonso
– may still be in the frame to partner Vettel.
Either 'big name' would bring more experience – and guile – to the table than third-year racer Ricciardo, but the Australian believes that he has what it takes to make the transition to a top team, having learned the F1 ropes at HRT and Toro Rosso
since graduating from the role of RBR reserve in 2011.
“I am definitely aware that, if I do get the opportunity to race alongside [Vettel], it is not going to be easy,” he admitted, “But I would love to get the opportunity to prove to everyone that I have what it takes – and, more than that, to know for myself that I can mix it with the big guys. If I can't, well, at least I can say I tried. But I believe I can.”
While Red Bull
boss Christian Horner continues to deny that an agreement has been struck, and Ricciardo himself is clearly having to keep his counsel regarding his future, there have been a couple of signs to reinforce the belief that he will be Vettel's team-mate next year.
While revealing that he has relocated to Monaco from Milton Keynes may appear to be moving away
from his new employer, reports of a seat fitting at RBR headquarters is the biggest signal yet that a deal has been done.
“To be honest, the weather and the ocean was a bigger factor than the tax,” Ricciardo said of his move, “There are the financial benefits, of course, although they probably don't help me now. I'm not really earning enough to justify it.”
The seat fitting, according to reports in the German media, did not necessarily go without a hitch, amid claims that the Australian may be the wrong shape for the notoriously slim Red Bull
"I've got wide hips,” Ricciardo confirmed, “It's not my arse per se
. I guess it's genetic. Even when I signed for Toro Rosso, they did some scans to make that particular part of the cockpit a bit wider, but I've heard that Adrian [Newey] does like to build small race cars. I can't do much about it."