Daniel Ricciardo: Racing, listening and waiting

Speedcafe.com

Thursday 1st July, 2010 - 10:15pm

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Daniel Ricciardo leads the World Series by Renault pack on his way to victory at Monaco earlier this year

Daniel Ricciardo leads the World Series by Renault pack on his way to victory at Monaco earlier this year

Hi Speedcafe readers. I’m Daniel Ricciardo – driver in the World Series by Renault and reserve driver for Red Bull Racing.

It’s a pretty busy year for me. If I’m not racing myself in the World Series, I’m following the Formula One circus around. It’s a pretty cool job!

As far as my results in the World Series by Renault are concerned, the year has gone quite well so far. To be sitting second, fighting for the lead at the halfway point is really where I wanted to be. We’ve had a few very good rounds and a few not so great, but for a rookie in the category, it’s as good as anyone seems to have gone in the past at this level.

From here, there’s a few good circuits coming up that I’m looking forward to. I want to keep the form that I’ve got, or if anything, do better in the second half of the year.

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo

I came into the season with confidence to fight for wins, but as we always see in motor racing, there are things that don’t go your way. And still being young, I’ve made some mistakes as well.

When you have one good race, you think you’ll always have a good race because it seems easy when you win, but you’re always going to have ups and downs. But we’ve taken points when we couldn’t win and I want to make sure we’re definitely in contention to win it at the end.

While the World Series is my main focus, Formula One just feels so close for me. It feels like it’s within my grasp, but how long until I get there, I’m not sure.

Having the link with Red Bull does give me a smell of it. Spending time at a lot of the races this year, I’m slowly becoming more of a part of it. I definitely can smell it, but you’re never there until you’re in the actual driver’s seat.

If my second half of the World Series season turns suddenly crap, there’s no guarantee for next year. I’ve definitely got to maintain what I’m doing now and give myself the best chance and some hope. I want to become a full-time F1 driver one day.

It can be a bit frustrating being the reserve driver. It’s cool to be there and be a part of it, but at the same time, I’m a driver, not a spectator. You always want to be in the car, no matter what. It can be a little bit hard sitting around on a weekend, trying to keep yourself amused.

At an F1 race meeting, my tasks for the weekend are reasonably simple. I arrive on Thursday, do a track walk with a couple of the drivers and the engineers. Then they’ll do a debrief, so I listen in on those. It pretty much goes on like that the whole weekend. They’ll do a session and I’ll watch from the pit box or out on track with a headset. If they want me to take notes of a particular corner to see what the other drivers are doing, I’ll do that. Otherwise I’ll sit in the garage and listen to what they have to say and get close to the data engineers and see what they’re changing. Basically, it’s about being involved and being amongst it.

There’s a lot of listening – definitely a lot of listening. I don’t do much talking at this stage!

My driving duties next year is still a really grey area. I haven’t heard any hints about it yet. Red Bull doesn’t really like GP2 – it’s very expensive and there’s a few politics there. I don’t really see GP2 being an option. But then again, if I do go win this year’s Renault series and there’s no seats available in Formula One, I don’t really know what I’ll do. There’s certainly nothing finalised.

I guess if I was going to go into Formula One, it would be with Toro Rosso (Red Bull Racing’s sister team), but Toro Rosso’s drivers are showing some pretty good potential at the moment. It’s a wait and see game.

Regardless, I’m ready for F1, if or when I get the call. I’ve prepared myself well. Personally, I think I’ve done as much as I can to prepare to be in the best shape. I would be ready, but I think it will take a bit of time to really get the most out of myself. I could definitely hope in and drive it. I’m sure I could go at a reasonable pace – nothing embarrassing! I’m quite sure I would be alright.

Anyway, it’s great to be part of Speedcafe.com.au’s Café Crew. Being on the other side of the world, Speedcafe is the best way to stay in touch with what’s happening back at home.

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