Daniel Ricciardo has been confirmed as Red Bull’s second driver in a move widely expected by the F1 paddock.
The Australian, currently racing for Red Bull’s ‘B Team’ Toro Rosso, has been one of the hot favourites for the seat ever since compatriot Mark Webber announced his impending retirement in June. The 24 year-old entered his first race for backmarkers HRT at the 2011 British Grand Prix, before going on to join Toro Rosso ahead of the 2012 season. He has impressed observers with his speed in qualifying sessions, but sees joining the senior team as a chance to progress his talent even further alongside reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel.
“Obviously there’s a lot of excitement running through me. Since joining F1 in 2011, I hoped this would happen and over time the belief in me has grown.” Daniel Ricciardo
Any illusions the Australian may have that he can challenge for the title could be rudely shattered however as he is undoubtedly making the move in order to support Vettel, whom the team is focused around.
He’s got all the attributes that are required to drive for our team. He’s got a great natural ability, he’s a good personality and a great guy to work with.” said Christian Horner.
“Daniel knows what the team expects. He’ll learn quickly and it’s very much a medium- to long-term view that we’re taking in developing him. The seat within the team is a wonderful opportunity and I think he’s going to be a big star of the future.”
However, with Vettel perhaps harbouring secret motions toward Ferrari, as has been widely reported in the press, Red Bull need to be sure they have another young star capable of stepping up to take the fight to their rivals when the German inevitably moves on or retires from racing.
Ricciardo fills that role perfectly, having been brought up within the Red Bull corporate mould much the same way Vettel made the journey before him. Unlike Webber, the younger man is not an outside force with immediate designs on usurping his team mate; but he admits he would like to take the fight to Vettel.
“Next year I’ll be with a championship-winning team, arguably the best team, and will be expected to deliver. I’m ready for that. I’m not here to run around in 10th place, I want to get the best results for myself and the team.” added Ricciardo.
“It will be a great challenge to be up against Sebastian Vettel; I’m looking forward to that. My aim is to finish this season as strong as possible, for myself and Scuderia Toro Rosso. Then, once the off-season is here, I’ll be fully focused on next year and the next stage of my career.”