Red Bull Racing team leaders see no reason why Daniel Ricciardo cannot do a “superb” job in the 2014 Formula 1 season and expects him to get better and better.
Despite Ricciardo’s lack of high-profile results, with his best finish to date being seventh in this year’s Chinese Grand Prix, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has no doubts his team has picked the right man to partner Sebastian Vettel.
“Obviously, when a seat like ours becomes available then it is quite attractive to a lot of drivers up and down the pitlane, and that is the reason we took our time,” explained Horner about the decision-making process. “We wanted to consider all the options, all the permutations and to make sure that we made the right decision. And I believe we have made the right decision. I think that Daniel really deserves the chance.
“He is a seriously quick driver, he is a young guy and, behind that broad smile, he has a determination behind him. I think there is no reason at all why he cannot do a superb job next year.”
Although Red Bull did weigh up a move for Kimi Raikkonen, Horner said that he was sure the longer-term ambitions of the team were best served by a youngster.
“If you were picking a driver for Melbourne maybe you would have made a different choice,” he said. “But we are not picking a driver for Melbourne. We are picking a driver for the duration of next year and for the future.
“Daniel is at the beginning of his career. He will only get stronger; he is only going to grow and develop – and only time will tell how good he can be. Our job is to give him the opportunity and platform to do that, and he will have every bit the same opportunity as Sebastian to demonstrate his ability.”
Although Horner concedes there is a risk attached to handing a top-line seat to a youngster, he says he has seen enough from Ricciardo to have faith in him.
“As far as the constructors’ championship is concerned, of course there is a risk with whoever your drivers are,” he said. “Daniel’s points have been limited because of the machinery that he has been sitting in.
“I think that he is not a driver who gets involved in incidents, and he is not a driver who is wild in his overtaking moves. If you think back to Japan last year, when he fought with Michael Schumacher, he has demonstrated he can go wheel-to-wheel with some of the best drivers in the world.
“His drive at Spa where he came from the back of the grid all the way through to score points was another testimony to his racecraft.”