Daniel Ricciardo says his temporary podium at last year’s Australian Grand Prix has given him the belief he can at least match that performance in next month’s Formula One season-opener at Albert Park.
In an emotion-charged home debut with Red Bull, Ricciardo finished second to the Mercedes of race winner Nico Rosberg only to be stripped of the position due to a technicality.
The loss did little to halt the West Australian who was the only driver to challenge the title-winning Mercedes cars in 2014, with a trio of grand prix victories. Ricciardo says his performance last year remains an inspiration to him.
“I have an extra bit of confidence coming from last year, that’s with me now and hopefully will run with me until the end of my career,” he said.
“But it’s more excitement than anything. Now that I know that I have proved to myself that I can do it.
“Knowing that if I’ve got the tools with me that weekend in March, then I’ve got it all to play for and I honestly believe I can do it.”
Ricciardo admits he goes into the Australian GP with far higher pressure than last year.
Red Bull made a shaky start to the first F1 test at Jerez in Spain while Ferrari put in an eye-catching run and Mercedes again proved strong.
But the Australian was quick to make light of the significance of the session.
“Definitely at the first test, you worry about yourself, but of course we’re aware of the laps Mercedes did and the lap time Ferrari put down,” Ricciardo said.
“We expect nothing less of Mercedes to be honest, but Ferrari look like they came out pretty strong.
“For now they look good, but its still early, and Jerez is a place that we don’t race at again.
“We never drive in conditions that are five to eight degrees, and the track is really abrasive there, the tarmac is a lot more aggressive than any other track.
“So they look good, but are they going to be the same once we’re racing in race conditions?”
Ricciardo says Red Bull will be more competitive in the next test in Barcelona later this month. (AAP)