6 September 2013
Italian Grand Prix: Ricciardo admits ‘it’s not going to be easy’
Daniel Ricciardo reveals that he did not find out that he would be partnering Sebastian Vettel until shortly before Red Bull's announcement last Monday, but is already welcoming the challenge.
Christian Horner may have claimed that Daniel Ricciardo will not need a 'honeymoon period' to settle in at Red Bull Racing, but the Australian is under no illusion as to the challenge he faces next season.
Ricciardo's move to Milton Keynes was finally confirmed late on Monday, and the Toro Rosso driver was still the centre of attention when he arrived at Monza for this weekend's Italian Grand Prix. With Red Bull having taken the decision not to pair a proven racewinner like Kimi Raikkonen with three-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, much has been made of Ricciardo's ability to compete with the German, amid claims that he has been signed as much for his ability to play dutiful number two.
The man himself, however, showed no signs of being cowed by Vettel's reputation, even if he admitted that the German will provide a serious yardstick for his talent.
“Obviously, I would love to be as competitive as I can as quickly as possible,” he claimed, “I'll obviously finish the  season as strongly as possible with Toro Rosso but, as soon as it's finished, I'll switch my focus to 2014, try and put in a really good off-season, at least do as much as I can to prepare myself to be there for the first race.
“I know it's obviously not going to be as easy as it seems, but the best thing I can do is push myself as much as I can. I have one of the best team-mates in the world now to measure myself against, so [I'll] push myself as hard as I can.”
Being a product of the Red Bull driver development programme has, at least, given Ricciardo the opportunity to embed himself in the senior team, and he is sure that time spent in the RBR camp will ease his transition over the winter.
“I think I'm pretty fortunate to have spent some time with Red Bull Racing in the past as a reserve driver,” he confirmed, “At Toro Rosso, we still go to Milton Keynes to use the simulator, so I see a fair chunk of the team away from race weekends.
“Obviously, now that the news is out, I will try and, if I get some extra time to start to mould a relationship with the crew for next year, I'll ease into it and, by December, when we really start, I'll already try and establish a good relationship with the guys and understand the way they work. As I say, I'm quite fortunate, I already understand a little bit about it, so a little bit of a head start.”
The speculation and constant questioning undoubtedly became a strain for all involved in the discussions over Vettel's team-mate for 2014, and Ricciardo conceded that it was good to have that phase of the season behind him.
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