London: Daniel Ricciardo has conceded to a touch of regret his career with Red Bull has started at a time when the team no longer dominate.
Ricciardo, who celebrated his 25th birthday on Tuesday with a karting event at the Daytona track in Milton Keynes, has been a revelation this season since his promotion from Toro Rosso. Ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix, Ricciardo finds himself third in the drivers’ standings, effectively the best of the rest behind Mercedes’ title-scrapping duo Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
Even team principal Christian Horner and chief technical officer Adrian Newey have expressed surprise at just how well Ricciardo has performed.
The only downside for Ricciardo is that Red Bull are off the pace of rivals Mercedes this season as power unit suppliers Renault have not delivered on the change in regulations. “Looking at it, it’s been a really solid first eight races,” said the Australian.
“To get podiums and then to back it up with a win, it’s been good, so I can’t complain with the start of the year.
“Obviously from a team perspective we’d love to be more competitive, but that’s just how it is. You can’t dominate forever. It’s a shame I’ve come in to the team now when we’re not dominating, but at the same time we’ve still been able to get good results.
“If we were just fighting to get in the top 10 - if every race had been a bit more like the last one in Austria — it would have been a bit of a disappointment, frustrating. But so far that’s been more of a one-off as in every other race we have there or thereabouts, so I’m not down.”
Of particular note is the fact Ricciardo has out-qualified four-time champion teammate Sebastian Vettel six-two, and is also six-two ahead in terms of race finishes. The most notable result, of course, and the highlight of his F1 career to date, was his debut win in Canada last month.
Ricciardo says he has always believed in his own ability and that he would not be Vettel’s fall guy. “I came into the season knowing what I had around me and if I could use it all as I had hoped, get my stuff together, I would generally be able to challenge Seb,” he added.