Having had to contain his excitement while the final touches were put to his deal, Daniel Ricciardo naturally says he is excited at the chance to race with F1's best team next season.
Although Red Bull Racing had originally intended to announce its line-up at the end of F1's summer break, Ricciardo was made to wait another week before being able to celebrate his call up to partner Sebastian Vettel, with the announcement eventually coming in the build-up to this weekend's Italian Grand Prix.
The delay, which survived Mark Webber's disclosure to Channel 10
that a deal had been done - 'we all know who it is, it's good for him and it's good for Australia', the veteran had let slip - prompted speculation that RBR may still have been negotiating with other drivers, with both Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso rumoured to have been in contact with the team over the summer. In the end, however, it was indeed Ricciardo, a product of Red Bull's development programme, who got the call to partner Vettel.
“I feel very, very good at the moment and, obviously, there's a lot of excitement running through me," the 24-year old admitted, "Since joining F1 in 2011, I hoped this would happen and, over time, the belief in me has grown. I had some good results and Red Bull has decided that this is it, so it's a good time. I would like to thank the team for giving me the opportunity to show what I can do."
With the constructors' title as important to Red Bull as the individual crown, Ricciardo will be expected to step into Webber's role and, if not initially able to challenge Vettel for the drivers' crown, at least provide sufficient support to ensure that the team can continue to fend off the likes of Ferrari, McLaren, Lotus and Mercedes in the teams' competition.
"Next year, I'll be with a championship-winning team, arguably the best team, and will be expected to deliver," Ricciardo confirmed, "I'm ready for that. I'm not here to run around in tenth place, I want to get the best results for myself and the team."
The Australian, of course, is no stranger to Red Bull, having begun his F1 career as reserve for the drinks brand's two teams, before being parachuted into the HRT line-up to give him additional race experience before a seat opened up at Toro Rosso for 2012. Since then, he has been handed regular opportunities to test with RBR, most recently in July's Young Driver session at Silverstone, which many took to be a precursor to the announcement that he would replace Webber in the 2014 line-up.
"I know the team quite well already since being its reserve driver in 2010, which should make the transition easier," Ricciardo confirmed, "It will be a great challenge to be up against Sebastian, and I'm looking forward to that. My aim is to finish this season as strong as possible, for myself and Scuderia Toro Rosso. Then, once the off-season is here, I'll be fully focused on next year and the next stage of my career.”