Daniel Ricciardo: Penalty put downer on great day

Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s newest driver speaks exclusively to Redbull.com about the Aussie GP.

Daniel Ricciardo speaks to the media at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix
© Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s new recruit Daniel Ricciardo was the star attraction in Melbourne last weekend and very much the darling of a partisan Albert Park crowd. It was a weekend of highs and lows for Daniel with a front-row start after a brilliant wet qualifying performance and a strong race that saw him take his first F1 podium – only to be disqualified five hours later. In this exclusive interview, Daniel speaks to Redbull.com about an eventful first weekend with Red Bull Racing…

Daniel, the race itself, what did you think of your first grand prix driving for Infiniti Red Bull Racing.
That was definitely a good grand prix for me. Great to start on the front row after a tricky qualifying session. I stayed cool at the lights and got a good run down to Turn One and was able to hold onto P2. From there I was able to run the race I wanted and control my own fate. The Mercedes obviously had superior pace, second was always going to be the best I could hope for and I was really happy to deliver that. Crossing the line and having the crowd all jump up on their feet and applaud… that was pretty special. It’s different to how you imagine it.

Daniel Ricciardo celebrates at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix
Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Daniel Ricciardo© Vladimir Rys/Getty Images

It looked like you enjoyed the podium ceremony…
I’m not sure enjoy is the right word. With Alan Jones doing the podium interview it all felt very surreal. A bit far-fetched actually – genuinely an unbelievable moment – and something I won’t forget in a hurry.

And afterwards…
Yeah – that puts a bit of a downer on what had been a brilliant day. It’s not how I imagined celebrating after my first F1 podium. I still went out to catch up with a couple of mates, but it’s fair to say the mood wasn’t as wild as it might have been.

Are there positives to take away from the race?

Actually it’s mostly positives: I did a good job in the car and I got to stand on the Australian Grand Prix podium – and no-one’s taking the sensation of doing that away. What happens next is outside of my ability to control but honestly, I’d rather it went down like this than have retired from the race with a mechanical problem. I’ll take a podium and a subsequent disqualification over that any day of the week.

So, what comes next?
Albert Park’s made me hungry to get on the podium again – and I think we’ve got a really good chance of doing it. The work we did in the winter targeted reliability rather than performance. It was only in Melbourne that we got the opportunity to start working on a set-up. The RB10 surprised us by being pretty competitive in the dry and very competitive in the wet. It’s going to get much better as we dial it in over the next few races and catch up with those teams that did more miles pre-season.

How competitive do you think the RB10 is?
At the moment, we’re in the battle to be the second-best team. Obviously that isn’t where we want to be but it’s exceeding our expectations of only a few weeks ago. I think once we really get into the setup of the car, we’ll be able to close the gap to Mercedes. Obviously they’re going to improve too but I think we’re in a good position to make bigger strides.