Daniel Ricciardo believes this year’s Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix could be the first ever in which a local finishes on the podium.
The Red Bull Racing driver heads into his home race with far brighter prospects after the Milton Keynes squad completed a positive pre-season.
Last year Ricciardo endured a nightmare Australian Grand Prix which was headlined by a crash in qualifying before an electrical failure saw him miss the start. An engine failure then curtailed his day.
The West Australian’s best finish at the event was a fourth in 2016 after his second place finish in 2014 was scrubbed due to a fuel flow breach.
His 2016 result equalled the best ever finish for an Australian in a home grand prix.
However, a strong pre-season has the 28-year-old in positive mood for this year’s season opener.
“I believe so,” said Ricciardo when asked if this could be his most effective Australian Grand Prix.
“We had a good winter. It’s all there in front of us now.
“I think we’re still the top three teams – Mercedes, Ferrari and us. I think we’re still going to be leading the pack for now. So hopefully we’ll be deep in that group and have a chance to stand up on the podium.
“Not starting last year wasn’t fun at all.
“Last year we missed the anthem on the grid because I was in the garage trying to get the thing going, or be there for when it got going.
“I missed a lot of the Sunday build-up, which was not fun. For sure this preparation is going to mean more fun this weekend and we’ll see where that fun takes us.”
“This is a year which our prep has been good and I really hope Lewis is right that we will have a chance to fight for the title and then that’ll ultimately make me very happy,” added Ricciardo.
Ricciardo will kick off his Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix campaign on Friday when opening practice begins at 1200 AEDT.