After spending the first half of the season impressing as a Friday driver for Toro Rosso, Red Bull Junior Daniel Ricciardo is switching to a race seat for the rest of the year with the HRT team, where he will partner former Red Bull driver Tonio Liuzzi. In his spare time Dan will continue to race in the World Series by Renault, and he remains very much an integral part of the Red Bull Junior Programme. The Australian was thrust into the limelight at his very first F1 press conference this afternoon where he had this to say…
"It was quite a nice birthday present for me [getting the news on July 1st]. It was quite a big surprise. I didn’t expect to be racing Formula One this year so it’s a huge opportunity for me and still a bit of a shock. But I am sure it will all be rationalised come Sunday… "
You must have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Silverstone: the last time you were here you ended up on your head, having flipped at the start of the WSR race…
I’ve had some mixed emotions here, but generally I’ve gone well; it’s one of the circuits I enjoy. In fact I had one of my greatest races here, back in 2008, in Formula Renault, so it’s been good to me. It’s also quite close to my second home here in England. I’m able to sleep in my own bed this weekend, which is nice. But mostly I’m just looking forward to getting out there and doing the job.
You’re not driving a front running car, does that worry you? What’s the aim this weekend? Is your only real rival Tonio Liuzzi?
It doesn’t worry me at all. It is a huge opportunity to get a chance to race in Formula One – something I have dreamed of since I was a boy. For the race I think the first aim is to try to finish and just get the miles under my belt and the experience at this level. That’s the most important thing. I’ve never done a race this long, so physically and mentally I’m gong to find out where I am. I think that’s going to be good. Tonio is very experienced and I’m sure I can learn something from him. I’ll try to be competitive with him. Basically we’ll see how it goes.
'I've been preparing for this for a while, just in case I got the call'
You say this will be the longest race you’ve ever done. Have you upped your training or were you ready for this?
I’ve been travelling a lot, doing both championships, so I can only do so much with the training at this stage. I think the race fitness is pretty good because I’ve done quite a bit of racing this year. So yeah, we will see how we go on Sunday but I feel ready for it. I’ve got an idea, being the reserve for Red Bull Racing last year and seeing how the boys – Mark and Seb – handle the race weekend and knowing a little bit about what they do outside of race weekends. I’ve been able to build up a bit of a programme for myself – but I’ve only known for a week that this was going to come, and I can’t change the world in a week. But I’ve been preparing for this for a while, just in case I got the call. I’m sure I’m going to be alright.
In the run-up to this Grand Prix, Colin [Kolles – HRT team principal] has made some comments about the car not really suiting the track. Are you concerned that your F1 debut might not really happen this weekend, due to the 107 per cent rule?
I haven’t thought about that at all. I hope I’m more than capable of qualifying in that percentage. I don’t fear it will be a problem. It’s my first time in the car and I do expect it will be different to what I’ve driven before. I don’t expect it to be the Red Bull that I drove in Abu Dhabi for the junior tests. Tonio’s done a good job this year and he’s qualified all the time so if he’s able to qualify then I hope I can too. It hasn’t even crossed my mind.
- Keep up to date with Red Bull Racing
- Full story about Daniel signing with HRT
- Daniel Ricciardo's profile on redbull.com