With the retirement of compatriot Mark Webber at the end of last season, the 24-year-old from Perth will be the centre of attention at the 2014 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix, and Ricciardo says he’ll draw energy from the Albert Park crowds.
Speaking to the Australia Grand Prix’s ‘Keeping Track’ podcast, Ricciardo says he’s feels fortunate to be one of just 12 drivers on this year’s grid to be able to compete in a home race.
“A lot of people wonder if it adds pressure, but it definitely motivates me,” he said of racing at home.
“It is absolutely awesome to have a home Grand Prix. It is cool just to see all the Aussie flags, inflatable kangaroos, some real emblems of Australia knowing now that it is for me, and it’s on this world stage. It’s hard to put it into words – it is a bit surreal, and it’s something I always dreamed of.”
With Formula One ushering in its biggest regulatory revolution in decades with the switch to 1.6-litre V6 engines, Ricciardo says the new-generation cars will provide plenty of entertainment for the Albert Park spectators.
“The cars are more challenging – the power delivery when we get on the throttle is definitely different, and I think if it rains it’s going to be really challenging to try to control the wheelspin and the oversteer,” he said.
“At Albert Park, even exiting Turn 2 … that’s probably fourth gear out of there, and even in fourth gear you’re going to see a little bit of power-sliding, especially as the tyres start to get on. So for the spectators, they’re going to see some good action.”
Ricciardo also spoke about Red Bull Racing’s response to a difficult pre-season testing campaign and why the troublesome RB10 car can soon be on the pace of the front-runners.
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