Australian Daniel Ricciardo insists that there’ll be no celebrations at Red Bull Racing tonight, despite electrifying his local crowd with second place in qualifying.
The Australian missed out on pole position by just 0.3s after being edged by Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes in the dying seconds of a weather-hit session.
The result marks a dream start to Ricciardo’s first season with Red Bull Racing, which had struggled through pre-season testing.
Team-mate Sebastian Vettel will start just 12th having failed to progress into the final segment of qualifying after suffering a software issue with his RB10’s power unit.
“I’m really excited, but at the same time still staying calm and collected because tomorrow is what counts, definitely,” insisted a beaming Ricciardo after the session.
“There’s no point having a party tonight and not focussing on tomorrow.
“(But I’m) pretty excited. I heard all the crowd on the cool down lap so all I can say is that hopefully I hear that tomorrow.”
As was the case for many drivers, qualifying marked Ricciardo’s first experience with one of the 2014-generation cars in wet conditions.
“The car was pretty good to drive in the wet,” he said.
“At the start of the year we were all figuring out how difficult how these animals would be in wet conditions.
“It was a bit of a handful but I think at the same time quite nice behind the wheel. Controlling the turbo and all that on throttle was good fun.”
Ricciardo has been the poster boy for this year’s Australian Grand Prix, with his promotion to Red Bull Racing coinciding with the retirement of compatriot Mark Webber.
The 24-year-old Ricciardo, who is yet to finish better than seventh in a grand prix, stressed he hasn’t established himself as a front-runner just yet.
“It’s cool (to be fighting at the front) but I can’t get ahead of myself, I’ve got a bit to prove still to establish myself,” he said.
“It’d obviously be great to be up here for the next few weekends to cement myself at the front of the grid.
“This is definitely a step towards that but there’s still a bit to go. I’m obviously excited for what lies ahead and I’ll give it a good crack.”
Although a front-row qualifying session is a dream start, reliability questions over the new cars ensures that nothing is guaranteed for the race.
“Fuel is probably the question mark for a lot of teams,” continued Ricciardo.
“We still haven’t done a race distance yet so I think it’s probably going to be one of those things that we’re going to understand more and more with each lap we do in the race.
“I’ll just keep getting information from the pit wall and there are different modes and everything to control consumption on the steering wheel and I’ll just act accordingly.”