Daniel Ricciardo insists that he has not yet been given confirmation that he has landed the Red Bull seat alongside Sebastian Vettel for next year. But he looked and sounded confident as he faced the media in the Spa paddock this afternoon.
Since Kimi Raikkonen’s manager Steve Robertson announced that he had ceased talks with Red Bull, the way has looked clear for Ricciardo, as he was apparently the only other driver on the shortlist.
But the Aussie insists that the Red Bull management is making him wait.
Whereas Raikkonen dodged the media today, citing illness, Ricciardo faced the music and coped fairly well with a large media contingent pressing him for answers. He drank a lot of water, indicating a dry mouth, but he didn’t give anything away. He looked very confident and clearly feels that the drive will be his, however he was prepared to talk hypothetically and be drawn into discussing scenarios like whether he would be allowed to win a race if he found himself ahead of Vettel.
“The phone call I still haven’t had, so it’s still a bit up for grabs,“ said Ricciardo.
“I’m not popping the champagne, no celebrations; until something is confirmed, signed sealed and delivered. It’s a guessing game, I’d be lying if I said I knew (when the confirmation would come) If we don’t get results that we are after then it could drag out to the end of the season.”
Asked to comment on Raikkonen’s manager announcement he said, “I don’t follow too much of the media hype, people keep writing to me asking if things are true. I can assure you I haven’t heard anything from the people next door so I have to keep my feet on the ground, keep pushing and keep getting some results to boost my chances.
Asked if he was ready to compete at the highest level he said, “If it was to go forward in my favour, I would expect (that) of myself. Obviously it’s not as easy task and I wouldn’t expect it to be. Even though Sebastian’s won three straight, it hasn’t been easy for him. I would prepare and make sure I’m in the best possible position to make it happen in a successful way.
Arguably the key point here is that there is a pressing need for the Red Bull programme to deliver another contender, after the millions that have been spent on it and on Toro Rosso.
“It’s definitely important,” agreed Ricciardo. “It means a lot to Red Bull and myself to fulfil their programme. That’s the real final step. I’m sure they want to see another young Red Bull kid to come in and try to fight for a world title. Obviously Seb’s done that and completed their programme but I’m sure they’d love more than one person to complete the journey. At the same time they have to get a guy who they are sure can do the job and I still have to prove that’s me.
Asked if he would consider himself, ‘not bad for a number two driver’ as Mark Webber once styled himself, he said, ”I hear a bit in the team about equality and I’m sure people have different opinions. If I got a shot I’m sure I’d get the same car and the same opportunity to show my skills.
“I’m still young. I haven’t won anything yet so I definitely want to win something. If I was in a position to win a race in future I’d be allowed to.”
Judge for yourselves. He looks like a man who has one hand on the prize, but is being made to wait, despite the speculation in the German media last week. No announcement is imminent. They clearly want things to cool off a bit. But Ricciardo looks like a Red Bull driver.