Daniel Ricciardo is hoping that the support of the Melbourne crowd will provide him with a boost as he starts his Red Bull Racing career on home soil.

Admitting that joining the world champions at any other race on the calendar would probably be easier in terms of pressure, the Australian also confirms that he cannot wait to get underway as team-mate to Sebastian Vettel.

Ricciardo's enthusiasm - and his near permanent smile - were sorely tested in pre-season testing, where Red Bull struggled for both performance and reliability, but his final day behind the wheel of the new RB10 resulted in third place on the Bahrain timesheets and he heads 'down under' in a positive frame of mind, even if Vettel subsequently ran into more problems on the final days of pre-season.

"I'm very, very excited about the new season," the Australian insisted, "It's always good fun going to Melbourne, as it's a great city. It's great that Australia has a grand prix - and a source of pride that it's everybody's choice to kick-start the season - [but], if we went to Malaysia or Bahrain for the first race, then I'd be able to ease into my career with Infiniti Red Bull Racing. In Oz, I assume the weekend will be right up there in my face! But I'll enjoy it - and hopefully use the positive energy of the crowd to give me a good result."

Ricciardo has yet to better seventh place in any of the 50 races he contested with HRT and Toro Rosso, but is expected to improve on that with his new team, even if results may be a little slow in coming this season. However, with unpredictability stalking F1 in 2014, and none of the eleven teams confident that it has the complete package required to win in Australia, he remains optimistic of a decent showing on one of the season's most tricky tracks.

"Albert Park always tends to be a pretty exciting race," he explained, "I like racing on street circuits, [but] the Albert Park track is very bumpy and you have to contend with all the road markings. It also has some really good changes of direction with right-left, right-left turns in rapid succession.

"Full-time racing circuits tend to be very smooth and have plenty of grip. You don't get that with a street circuit. At the start of the weekend, they're pretty dirty and gradually they clean up as cars sweep the racing line and put down rubber in the braking zones. It's nice to feel the track evolve underneath your car and know that it's going to get quicker throughout each session."

Ricciardo's best result on home soil came on his Melbourne debut two years ago, when he finished ninth for Toro Rosso, but last year's outing ended in a DNF. However, he heads to Albert Park in good heart after beating compatriot - and RBR predecessor - Mark Webber's lap record for the circuit used at Sydney's Top Gear Festival.

Ricciardo clocked 1min 13.08secs to take nearly six-tenths of Webber's previous mark.



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