Infiniti Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo was at the Westfield White City shopping centre in London to talk Formula One. Recombu Cars and a handful of other motoring journalists fired some questions his way before the event.
Not every day do you get to speak to a formula one driver, and certainly not one who put his ex-teammate and four-time world champion Sebastien Vettel to shame in his first season at Red Bull.
We are, of course, talking about the Aussie who is as keen on winning races as he is on smiling and listening to hardcore. We had a quick catch up with him to talk about 1,000hp Formula One cars, who the teams to beat are and the fear of being upstaged by teammate Daniil Kvyat.
Daniel when you ex-teammate Sebastien Vettel was racing for Infiniti Red Bull he had a car made in his honour, the FX edition. Will you be asking for your own Infiniti road car?
Ricciardo: Maybe. Nothing is in progress at the moment, no. But yeah, if I got the possibility to do something that would be pretty fun… I wouldn’t turn down the opportunity.
Looking ahead to 2015, where’s your head at?
It’s a Basement Jaxx song, isn’t it? [laughs] I feel good, I would have been happy for the last season to keep going. Obviously I was enjoying it. Christmas was a time to reflect on it all.
I feel like I learnt a lot from last year and happy to not really change anything this year, just keep building on what I’ve already achieved, keep growing as a driver. I can’t wait to drive the car for the first time. I think after the first day of testing I’m going to be waiting to get to know the car already and start racing again.
How are you getting along with your new teammate?
I get on with my new teammate well. I’ve known him for four or five years. He’s a good guy, I think we’ll work well together. He’ll learn quickly and help me out in terms of getting the team and cars as fast as they can go. We’re pretty easygoing guys, but very competitive as well. I think the on-track stuff will be fun.
What does it feel like to be the number one driver of a championship winning team?
To be honest the number is something going to be determined on track so I’ll say I’m the veteran of the team. Hopefully I can prove to be a number one in my results. I still feel young. Danny’s obviously extremely young, a lot younger than me, but I don’t feel old yet. We’ll see what this even younger generation has to offer.
You immediately came in and upstaged Vettel. Is it a concern Danniil will do the same to you?
Anything’s obviously possible. I know he’s quick so I’m not going to take him lightly, definitely not. But at the same time, I have confidence in myself and in what I achieved last year. I’m confident I can replicate that again. We’ll see where Danny ends up, I’m sure we’ll be fighting at the front. Time will tell.
What do you think is Red Bull’s biggest hurdle to overcome in 2015?
Horsepower was what we were after last year, I mean that was our biggest weakness last year. If we can sort that, obviously working closely with Renault, the team’s trying to fasttrack that now, I think that will put us in better shape. Everyone always wants more power in general but we would like that little bit extra.
Given the way Mercedes dominated last year and that you finished the best of the rest, is it the primary aim to do the same or take it to Mercedes?
I guess I’ll do what I can and hopefully that can earn me some more race wins and put me in a title fight. I do believe Mercedes will have the target on them, they’ll be strong. I would like not to be best of the rest, I’d obviously like to be best full stop. But, again, time will tell. I’ve just got to focus on what I’m doing, get the most out of it and as I’ve hopefully that’s me winning races and then the rest is up to the team.
Where do you stand on the 1,000hp engines being talked about for 2017 – is that something that would excite you?
Going faster is always going to excite us. They’ll never be fast enough. 2,000hp, I don’t know. In all honesty, if they do end up making them with a few more ponies and be a bit quicker no one is going to say no. I really don’t believe anyone would be against that.
Which other teams are you looking at most keenly?
Most teams have a step of improvement, at least, they’ve got more potential. I think [Red Bull] have more potential. Ferrari does. McLaren’s unknown, but they could have a lot of potential with Honda now. There’s definitely a handful of teams. Lotus have gone with a Mercedes engine. I think there’s a lot of scope for improvement for everyone.
I’m hoping Mercedes don’t have too much more. I think there could be a few teams that turn a few heads this year, hopefully it’s us.