As the last day of pre-season testing came to an end at the Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Badger called by the back of the Red Bull Racing garage to hear Daniel Ricciardo address the gathered media on how progress has been over the winter, and his expectations for Melbourne.
On how he feels the test has gone:
“Pretty good. I’m glad the next time we are in the car is race time! I think three of my four days, we got over 100 laps done, so a lot better than the last couple of years.”
On the Renault power unit:
“We’ve made some improvements. I think there’s definitely some more to come, but so far it’s in the right direction. It’s a positive start to the year, and we are a lot better positioned that we were in the last two seasons.”
On how he feels heading to Melbourne:
“Excited! Glad there’s no more testing and ready to go! Always from a team’s point of view, more days mean you know more about the car, but I think we understand enough to go racing. We ticked all the boxes.”
On improving on his Australian GP result from last year:
“I think we can, 6th in the end was quite good, but I think some of the quicker teams didn’t get everything up to scratch. A few reliability things probably helped us.
I think the car is definitely better than it was twelve months ago. We should do better, but then again, Williams, and it looks like Force India, have also improved a chunk. The battle for fifth will be pretty close, I would say, but all going well, we can hopefully pull it off.”
On the new Qualification format:
“I still don’t really know what is happening with it, to be honest. I think there were definitely things that could have been changed before that – but if it’s the whole knock-out system, I think it puts a bit more emphasis on us going out and putting in a banker early and putting in a lap time straight away. So maybe it will make it a bit more intense than it is, but otherwise not much else.
We probably can’t rely on the pit wall too much. There’s a big lack of communication this year, so it’s going to make it all more interesting for sure. I need to fully understand what is happening in qualifying to give some proper comments though.”
On the proposed Halo driver protection:
“I don’t think it’s about if we like it or not, it’s if we can run it and if it’s safer. From what I saw it seems okay. For me, when the cars went from 2008 to 2009, it was a big change and the cars were ugly. I think the halo is as dramatic as that, and I heard Hulkenburg say some things I don’t agree with, because there’s no need to be a hero about the situation.
It doesn’t change the sport or the speed of the car, it’s just if there’s any flying objects and it’s an extra bit of protection for us, so I don’t know why he’s “puffing his chest out” for something like that – it doesn’t make sense.”
Might the RB12 only deliver a podium on a low speed circuit?
“I think if we were to race tomorrow, that’s probably where we stand for now. From that I mean that Mercedes and Ferrari are ahead of us on pure pace right now – it’s evident, but it’s expected as well.
If tomorrow we raced in Monaco, maybe we would have an outside chance of a podium, but if we were to race here tomorrow (Barcelona), then we’d need a little bit of luck.”