Interview with Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo
1 February 2011 – As runner-up in last year’s Formula Renault 3.5 series, Daniel Ricciardo steps up to a regular Friday role at Scuderia Toro Rosso for 2011 alongside his World Series by Renault commitments. The 21-year-old Australian shared his thoughts with GPUpdate.net in Valencia on Tuesday morning.
Daniel, you must be pretty pleased with your Friday role at Toro Rosso…
Yes, it’s a really good scenario for me this year. To have another chance at the World Series is great, so I can enjoy that plus some valuable seat time in a Formula 1 car - that is great for my career and I think it’s the best position in which to be at the moment.
Will you be doing any testing yourself this month?
In Valencia I won’t be doing any testing but, definitely, the plan is to get out on-track before the first race in Bahrain, so maybe in Barcelona or Bahrain testing but we’ll see how they go this week and take it from there.
Back in October you seemed a little apprehensive as to whether this was going to happen at Toro Rosso; did you fear at any point that this Friday drive wouldn’t happen?
I wouldn’t say I was fearing, I had a lot of my plate at the time with the World Series finale. I wasn’t in doubt that it was going to happen, I knew that Red Bull had the best interests for me and it was a good season for me last year. Even though I missed out on the championship, I knew they’d still find something good for me in 2011 and I pulled through, which is good, and we’ve got a big menu for this year.
What is your Friday programme? Is it fully defined now?
I wouldn’t say fully defined. It’s Free Practice 1, that definitely is the programme, but I think some races do clash with the World Series so that’s yet to be confirmed - but definitely Friday first practice and we’ll just see what we can do in there.
Will the regular drivers take it in turns to be replaced in those Friday sessions?
Yes, they will just alternate in the same way they were last year at Force India and other teams.
Will you be conducting any straight-line runs this year?
There should be some straight-line testing during the year, yes, for both Red Bull and Toro Rosso, but that’s yet to be confirmed as well.
There are a lot of fans on Twitter hoping you’re going to be stepping up to a race drive here at Toro Rosso in 2012; how confident are you that it can actually happen?
Yes, that’s the aim. I’d love to be racing in Formula 1 full-time in 2012 but I haven’t really even started this year, so I always try not to look ahead too much. I think, if I can learn as much as I can and do a good job in the Friday free practices, hopefully they can set me up with something for the future.
How much support has fellow Australian Mark Webber given you?
I only really get to see him on F1 weekends but last year I was obviously spending a lot of time with the Red Bull Racing camp, so I’ll have to be nice to him and try to get him to help me out if he could with some parts of the school rules and some things with which I need a bit of help, even with my World Series stuff if I wanted some advice. I think pretty much all of Australia is behind us now, it’s quite rare to have two people in Formula 1 at the same time, so we’ve had some good feedback from Australia.
Do you think, as an Australian yourself in the Red Bull family, Mark’s own success last year has helped your own career?
I think it just created a lot more awareness and backing from Australia, with Mark having had a good improvement and to be going well in the last few years; so Australia’s had a lot more awareness and for me, slowly creeping up now, it’s getting bigger which is good, so we’ll see…but I do think it’s now catching up with other sports in Australia.
The Mayor of Melbourne has recently come out saying that the race should be canned; how do you feel about that?
I think it would be tragic if Australia lost its Formula 1 event; every year I’ve been with friends and they’ve all said how great the weekend has been, so I think as a country it wouldn’t be a good thing but for the people and the fans - they love Formula 1 coming to their country, so let’s hope it stays there and I’m confident that it will.
There are many questions about this, believe it or not - how do you pronounce your own surname?
Well, in Italian here at Toro Rosso I think 'Ricky-ardo' is okay but usually for English speakers I would actually say 'Ricardo' - that's how my family has always said it!
Single answer: Who will be Formula 1 World Champion in 2011?
(Laugh and pause)…no comment! We’ll see after Bahrain!