Daniel Ricciardo admits that there might be a little more pressure on his shoulders in 2015, but is raring to get the new F1 season underway.
The Australian, who takes over as Red Bull team leader following the departure of four-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel, says that he is ready to pick up where he left off in 2014, admitting that he would have been happy for the racing to continue on after Abu Dhabi in November. With the unveiling of the new RB11 due before testing gets underway in Spain on Sunday, Ricciardo confesses that he can't wait to get started on his second season.
“I feel really good coming in to the 2015 season and obviously, compared to last year, I come in with a bit of confidence,” he said in a video released to accompany the start of RBR's 2015 campaign, “I'm just ready to keep going from where I finished last year. I would have been happy for the season to have continued, so I'll just try and pick it up where I left off.
“This time of the year, before we've actually hopped in the car, it's a bit of a waiting game, a little bit boring at times. You just want to get into it. [Now], I'm hanging out to drive [the RB11] for the first time in Jerez and, after that day, I'll be like 'let's go racing, hurry up and get to Melbourne!'.”
With Vettel now ensconced at Ferrari, Ricciardo finds himself as the figurehead of the Red Bull effort alongside Daniil Kvyat, but insists that he is ready to lead the squad as it looks to regain the titles it held for four straight seasons between 2010-13.
“There was probably pressure on me last year to prove myself in a top team, but I think now everyone knows what I am capable of,” he reasoned, “I'm excited to build on what we achieved and learned in 2014 and give Mercedes a good fight.
“I feel my responsibility within the team and, sure, it is a bit more than coming into the team last year. I know the guys a bit better now, and they know me, and I expect they'll expect me to give them a bit more feedback - in the winter time particularly. Other than that my approach hasn't really changed - my recipe worked last year, so it's a case of using that again and just trying to build and learn a few more things.
“I hope to improve on what I learned and achieved last year and just get better. I'm aware that third was a great result in the championship, but I'd love that big trophy and some more top steps. First, we'll look at the wins and try to rack up a few more and then hope that that results in a good title fight.”
Having had to watch as rival teams took the wraps off their 2015 challengers, Ricciardo has less than 24 hours until Red Bull reveals the RB11, and is confident that it will be a match for the other contenders.
“From what I've heard, the RB11 is shaping up pretty good but, of course, until we get on track, we won't really know,” he conceded, “I'm sure that, if you speak to all the teams, they'll say 'yeah, we're looking pretty good', so... I'm looking forward to driving the RB11 and I'm hanging out to get behind the wheel, so I hope it's going to be a beast - we'll soon find out!”