Aussie F1 duo look to Silverstone
Australia’s newest Formula One driver, Daniel Ricciardo, will have to beat compatriot and reigning Silverstone champion, Mark Webber, if he is to make one of the most spectacular F1 debuts ever in England this weekend.
AUSTRALIA’S newest Formula One driver, Daniel Ricciardo (pictured), already has his team’s regular racer in his sights.
Ricciardo will compete in his maiden F1 race at this weekend’s British Grand Prix after being leased to Hispania Racing by Red Bull.
The West Australian, who is just 22, will partner Tonio Liuzzi after replacing Indian Narain Karthikeyan, who will return later in the season for his home race.
Ricciardo has regularly been quicker than Toro Rosso’s two racers Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastian Buemi this year while being a third driver for Red Bull’s second team.
His performances have prompted the team to rush him into a race seat for valuable F1 experience with a view to a seat in a more competitive team in 2012.
And Ricciardo immediately makes no secret of the fact he will be out to top Liuzzi.
“If I can really beat and match myself with Tonio, try and get in front of a few other cars and not be on the last row, then that’s good,” Ricciardo told autosport.com.
“I will try and help the team to make progress. Although I am a young driver, I will try my best to develop the team.”
He admits he knows little of Hispania, a regular backmarker which at times has even failed to qualify.
“It is a bit hard to know where they are,” he said. “All I have seen is their times on the screens and I don’t really know how much fuel they have been carrying in testing, or what not.
“Sometimes, the gap is not what it was last year to the top teams. Obviously, I am not going to be fighting for a podium, at least not at this stage.”
While this will be his first F1 race, Ricciardo said driving for Toro Rosso in Friday practice sessions during this season’s race meetings had been invaluable.
“It has definitely done me good. Last year was great watching over everything and seeing how it all works, but this year getting the Fridays was really good,” he said.
“It gave me much more experience with the car and took a bit of pressure off as well, as the weekends have gone on, and I have got a bit more used to it.
“I definitely think I am better prepared for (the British GP) than I would have been without it.”
Another factor which will help ease him through his first race is the track – Silverstone is a circuit close to his English base and one he knows well.
“That helps as well. It will feel a bit more comfortable, let’s say. It is not Australia, but it is the next best thing,” Ricciardo said.
Meanwhile fellow Aussie and reigning Silverstone champ, Mark Webber, was swanning it around Harrods in London yesterday as he showed off his new footwear that he hopes will propel he and his Red Bull Racing car to the number one spot again.
Webber has yet to match the form of Red Bull team mate Sebastian Vettel this season, who has won six races and counting, but the Aussie driver will look to his solid performance in the European Grand Prix as a marker to turn his season around.