The Australian had driven at backmarker HRT and Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso, but this year he stepped up to the big league to replace his retired countryman Mark Webber.
Ricciardo set the second fastest lap-time for the Chinese Grand Prix qualifying and will line up on the front row of the grid for the second time in his F1 career.
“I couldn’t have got anything extra out of the car on that last lap, I got everything I could out of it; for that I’m pleased and I got rewarded with a front row place for tomorrow,” he said.
“It took a while to get going in the session today, I didn’t have the comfort or pace that I was aiming for, but I got it at the end. I feel like I’m ready to get a good result, I know it’s never going to be easy but I’m prepared for the fight tomorrow and I’ll embrace it.”
Some think Ricciardo currently has a better grip on the reigning world champions’ new RB10 even than quadruple title winner and teammate Sebastian Vettel.
“The team have been a bit surprised,” the always-smiling Ricciardo grinned to the Telegraph.
The 24-year-old has had a quite luckless 2014 season so far: disqualified in Melbourne and caught up in trouble in Malaysia, but he finished a solid fourth two weeks ago in Bahrain.
Ricciardo suggests he has exceeded even his own expectations.
“I don’t know how to say it – I don’t want to sound arrogant – but I believe a lot in myself, and I believed if I had the right equipment and the right opportunity then I would be able to show what I’m capable of, and that’s been shown now,” he said.
“I haven’t surprised myself but it’s been nice to confirm it to myself that I can do this. I believe I can keep doing it,” Ricciardo added. (GMM/ThisisF1)