Few drivers will pronounce themselves satisfied finishing dead last and three laps behind the leaders, but for Red Bull Junior, Daniel Ricciardo, while in no sense satisfied, that did represent mission accomplished as he climbed out of the HRT in the new Silverstone pitlane.
In a move designed to give Ricciardo some genuine F1 race experience, Red Bull have loaned out their official reserve to the HRT team for the rest of the season. Thrust into an unfamiliar car with no opportunity to test, Daniel acknowledges the job for his first few races is to keep it on the black stuff and get under his belt as many miles as possible. Before getting down to the serious business of the weekend at the Nürburgring he spoke to redbull.com.
RB: So Daniel, how was it to climb out of the car after your first 90 minute race? Sore?
DR: Physically I was quite happy with the condition I finished the race in. It was a step into the unknown so I was a little bit… I wouldn’t say worried… but certainly anxious to know how I was going to do – but at the end of the race I was OK. You always have a bit of pain and fatigue, but it wasn’t anything that affected my performance – so that was a positive. It was a little bit lonely though. It’s quite a long race to do by yourself but, y’know, it will motivate me to get up to the pace and be in a scrap for a longer part of the race and make things a bit more exciting for myself.
Is the HRT easy to drive or is it a bit wild?
It gets a bit wild on the long stints with the [degraded] tyres – but the general balance is pretty good. In qualifying when you bolt on the new tyres then the balance is not really too different from any race car. Obviously it’s lacking downforce, which is the main difference compared to what I’ve driven with Red Bull and Toro Rosso, so you take the high-speed corners a fair chunk slower – but the balance itself is quite similar, which is quite a good thing. From what I observed last year I think the team has made a massive amount of progress: I think last year they seemed quite loose on the rear under braking on occasion but driving it now it seems pretty stable.
Did the weekend at Silverstone go how you expected? Is the process the same as what you’ve observed at RBR and Toro Rosso?
It was very similar. I was very busy with media and stuff – understandably given that it was my first go – busier than I’ve ever been, but the meetings in the team were as I expected. Being with Red Bull last year and doing it with Toro Rosso this year helped me out and prepared me well for that.
When was the last time you finished a race dead last and several laps down, without anything having fallen off the car?
I think this was probably the first time I’ve seen a blue flag [move over, car lapping you] in a race situation! It’s not easy trying to concentrate on your own race while also watching out for those and having to move off the racing line. But my engineer and I have looked through my data from Silverstone and it seems I progressed quite well: I was losing less time towards the end of the race than I was at the start. It’s another thing that will come with experience and knowing how to lose less time without screwing up the other guys.
Is the plan basically the same for this weekend: do as many laps as possible?
It’s still all about just getting time in the car. The team has never been here before, because last year the German Grand Prix was Hockenheim, so we have a few laps planned and we won’t be sitting in the garage for too long. It’ll be good for the team and myself, and come Saturday and the race I think I can start to step it up a little bit more and be a little less conservative. The aim is still to finish the race and get the experience but I have to push as well. I’m sure by Sunday I’ll feel much more confident that I did two Sundays ago.
You’ve raced here a lot more recently than most people…
Yeah, I was here about a month ago with the World Series (by Renault). It’s fresh in my mind, which is good, and we had a bit of rain that weekend and drove in both wet and dry conditions, which could be quite handy this weekend! It’s always more pleasant to drive in dry conditions but I think in our situation the wet could present a few opportunities, but I’m glad Friday was dry and let me get a few laps under my belt.
You’re racing in something pretty much every weekend from now until the end of the season
And if I’m not racing I’m doing straight-line aero tests or something else, so it’s pretty busy! I’m very fortunate actually, to have driven everything I’ve driven in the past 18 months, especially the F1 cars. I’ve experienced the top [RB5, RB6], the middle [STR6] and now something more towards the back. It’s quite a range, given my level of experience, and I think it can only be good.
It’s been good for me to see everything: the Red Bull, the Toro Rosso and the HRT, all different cars and setups. I’ve learned more and learned faster than I would have done doing this any other way. Hopefully in the long run it’ll shape me into a more complete driver. I’m still enjoying doing World Series and I’m happy I’m finishing that championship. It means more racing for me and more opportunity to get better.
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