Daniel Ricciardo says he's excited for his much-anticipated homecoming as he gears up for the Formula 1 season opener in Melbourne.

The Australian driver has repeated his sentiments from winter testing, saying he is just delighted to go racing again. The 25-year-old adds that having the first race of the new year in his home nation is a 'privilege' and it gives him extra motivation.

"I'm just excited to finally go racing again and for me it's fun," Ricciardo said. "Obviously I'm really privileged having it at home, but in any case, it means it's a start to a new year. There is always new motivation and I think it's exciting.

"I love going home and the fresh air really gives me that home feeling. I spend so much time now away from Australia, that anywhere in Oz feels like home really. It's the cars, the accent, the food and the weather."

The Red Bull driver hopes to banish the painful memories of 12 months ago when he was disqualified from the race over three hours after finishing in second place in his first outing with the team.

Ricciardo had qualified second on the grid in Melbourne and fought off a late attack from McLaren's Kevin Magnussen to finish runner-up. The Australian was able to accept his second place trophy but was forced to return it after being disqualified for exceeding mandated hourly fuel flow rate limits.

Hoping to make amends in 2015, and become the first Australian to finish on the podium at his home race since the event was added to the F1 calendar, he says he feels proud about representing his country and seeing the sport grown.

"They [Australian fans] are not shy," Ricciardo said. "They'll go out and cheer and will be loud and flamboyant. They are pretty passionate about sports in general. It's great to see Formula One growing a lot in Australia. It's becoming quite a popular sport, which is really cool to see.

"The whole vibe and atmosphere is just amazing. It's busy and there is always something going on. The track is fun. I've always liked street circuits. I think it's a great and fast flowing circuit."

Reflecting on pre-seson testing in Jerez and Barcelona, the Australian driver says he is satisfied with the progress made and feels the team can continue to learn and develop the RB11 while racing.

"Testing has been relatively good for us. We had a few reliability issues but we racked up a lot of miles and learned a lot. I still feel that we have a bit more to go. But there is no better place to do this than going racing. I'm ready to go."



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