Daniel Ricciardo reckons the Red Bull Formula 1 team is taking him more seriously as a driver thanks to his strong early season form.
The Toro Rosso graduate has outqualified his four-time F1 world champion team-mate Sebastian Vettel three times in four races in 2014, and beat him by more than 20 seconds in the most recent grand prix in China. Ricciardo said his strong form has helped his standing within his new team when it comes to set-up work and car development.
Asked if he felt the team’s perception of him had changed, Ricciardo replied: “I think so. I’m not saying they didn’t believe in me, but now I’ve had some good results that’s given me confidence, and that makes my feedback come across as much more precise and I think they have more reason to trust me. The team has really started to build around both of us.”
Ricciardo said his ability to eke more life from his Pirelli tires compared to Vettel had given him an edge in Bahrain and China, but the Australian reckons it is still too early in the season for Red Bull to focus development around a single driver.
“I’d say we’re on an even playing field,” added Ricciardo when asked if he felt he was now the team leader within Red Bull’s driver lineup. “It’s still too early for the team to say: ‘You’re the number one guy, let’s listen to you and not really listen to the other guy.’ We have to see. If it continued like this up to August then maybe everything will change but it’s definitely still too early.
“Seb’s got quite a lot more experience than me, he’s still providing a lot of good feedback and to be honest I’m still learning, even in the debriefs, trying to understand the best way to get my point across.”