DANIEL Ricciardo equated his new lap record in Top Gear’s ‘Star in a Reasonably Priced Car’ challenge with winning his first Formula 1 grand prix.
“This is how I felt after Canada,” Ricciardo said, host Jeremy Clarkson chiming in with, “We’ve actually made a man happier than winning a grand prix.”
Ricciardo’s 1m42.2s-lap knocked reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton off the top of the F1 driver-only leaderboard by seven tenths of a second.
In true Top Gear fashion, Clarkson dragged out the suspense before revealing the result.
“Just do it slowly,” Ricciardo told him. “If I lost, I want to lose slowly.”
After Clarkson announced his winning time, Ricciardo stepped up on top of the coffee table and saluted the cheers of the crowd.
“I feel better now,” he said.
Clarkson added: “In the same car it turns out that the Aussie has just beaten the Brit, it’s the Ashes all over again.”
It had been a fun-filled first visit to the Top Gear set for Ricciardo, Clarkson at one point asking if anyone in the audience had a question for the visiting F1 star.
“What does the back of Lewis’ car look like?” chirped one punter.
Ricciardo’s response was pure gold.
“Can you see that?” he asked, flashing his trademark smile.
Ricciardo arrived at the show fresh from F1’s first winter test in Spain, where his new Red Bull had endured a tough track debut.
However Ricciardo, like last year, expects his new steed to be on the money come the season-opener on home soil.
“It’s still very early. We are still finding our way,” he said.
“But we’ve still got eight more days in Barcelona after this. Come Melbourne, we’ll be right.”
He has assumed the role of defacto team leader at Red Bull this year following the departure of four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel.
Prior to the 2014 season, many pundits expected Ricciardo would have a tough time matching his superstar teammate, but the man himself was quietly confident he could do the business.
“I believed I’d have him,” Ricciardo said.
“But, yeah, until I got on track and had everything like-for-like I wasn’t obviously sure how it would go.
“Coming into it, I didn’t expect to be the guy following him every weekend. I obviously came in with some self belief and that showed and confidence grew after that.”
Ricciardo will swap the Top Gear Suzuki Liana for his usual Red Bull F1 car later this month when F1 testing resumes at Barcelona. (FOX)