Daniel Ricciardo insists that he is trying not to look too far ahead in his F1 career, despite the obvious distraction of having been signed by Red Bull Racing for 2014.
The Australian was confirmed as RBR's replacement for the retiring Mark Webber shortly after F1's summer break, but says that, now that the initial hubbub has died down, he is able to concentrate on the job in hand, namely improving Toro Rosso's standing in the constructors' championship.
The Italian team current sits 14 points behind a resurgent Sauber squad, but has not added to its tally since Ricciardo brought home seventh place in the final European round of the season at Monza. With four races remaining, including this weekend's event in India, a lot could still change in the midfield, although Ricciardo recognises that making up too much ground could be tough as Sauber, Force India and McLaren all continue to squabble over the minor points positions.
“I think, around the time of the announcement, it was pretty hectic with the media and everything, but it's nicely calmed down now,” he said of the attention surrounding his RBR deal, “I'm sure, once I hop in the car next year, it will probably rise again, but it's been a quiet few weeks. I had a bit of time to myself, which is good.”
Ricciardo will become only the second member of Red Bull's talent programme to make it into the RBR line-up, joining the man he will partner next season, and the Australian admits that he has come a long way to achieve his goal.
“It seemed like a fair way away at the time, but I think that, going back years before that, since I got Red Bull supporting me and knowing what opportunities I had with them, then I think anything was possible,” he conceded.
“A lot of it was up to me. With HRT, I knew there was a bit of a road to travel on but, yeah, it's come along quite quickly, obviously to my delight. As I've said, I can't wait but, if you would have said, back in 2011, that I would be in a Red Bull seat in 2014, then I would have smiled and said 'beauty'.”
Of course, partnering Sebastian Vettel – who should be a four-time world champion by the time they team up in Milton Keynes – will be no easy ride for Ricciardo, but the Australian insists that he is not worrying about that just yet.
“Definitely, my main focus is on this year,” he claimed, “Obviously, I am aware of the competition I'll be up against next year, and I'm slowly employing a few things to help me out for January, to settle in with the team, but, yeah, I'm still very much focused on the rest of the year with Toro Rosso.
“I guess, once the season's over after Brazil, I'll make the conversion, start getting in the simulator and trying to figure out what makes Seb so quick...”