Daniel Ricciardo says he will take the fight to new team-mate Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull next season, adding that he has no intention of playing second fiddle.
The Australian replaced fellow countryman Mark Webber at the team which claimed its fourth successive constructors’ championship this year on the same weekend that Vettel won his fourth drivers’ title in a row.
Ricciardo joins Red Bull after two and a half seasons in Formula 1. The Australian has a career-best finish of seventh and is currently 14th in the drivers’ standings.
When asked by NBC Sports whether he will try and build the team around him, Ricciardo said: “In an indirect way, yes. It’s nothing personal. You need to build the team around you. Having the opportunity at a top team, I need to get what I want – that’s the sport.
“You want to make sure you’re getting at least equal [share] and then you always try and find an edge here or there. I’m coming in with a lot of respect for the guys at the team – including Seb – but I’m coming in with a vision and a goal and a motive. Bring it on.”
Despite the pressure of racing alongside the reigning world champion in a team which has dominated the sport for four years, Ricciardo has no intention of easing himself in. Instead, he wants to hit the ground running from the first race in Melbourne.
“Some people will expect me to be in there in Melbourne, others will expect to wait a few races. In terms of finishing positions, I have no idea but I am definitely not giving myself time. I want to come in at Melbourne ready and give it the best crack in the races from then on.”
Ricciardo pointed to Marc Marquez’s immediate success in MotoGP, where the Spaniard leads the championship standings going into the final race of the season in his debut year in the category, as inspiration.
“Marc Marquez is the best role model right now,” said the Australian. “I’m just switching teams and staying in F1 but he switched category – and he’s only 20 years old. So things are possible. I’m not going to put all the weight on my shoulders right now and say I’m going to this but you have to have faith. I’m going to give it a red-hot crack.”
That said, Ricciardo knows he has to bring home the results to keep his seat at the team. “If I give the team enough points next year to take constructors’, I’m sure they’ll probably keep me.”