Daniel Ricciardo feels ready to win the Formula 1 drivers’ championship if Red Bull is able to provide him with a competitive enough car in 2017.
Red Bull closed the gap to Mercedes during the past season, with Max Verstappen winning in Spain and Ricciardo victorious in Malaysia while the Australian also took pole position at the Monaco Grand Prix. While he has only won four races to date – three of which came in 2014 – Ricciardo says he is simply waiting for the opportunity to prove he has the capacity to win a title.
Asked if he is mentally prepared to challenge for the championship if the car allows him next year, Ricciardo told RACER: “Yeah I know I’m ready for it.
“I’m still not going to get my hopes up. I still think Mercedes will be the targets but if we can challenge then obviously that’s great. I won’t psych myself up too much to be let down, but I know that deep down if we’ve got a chance to do it then I’m ready for it. I actually feel like I’ve been ready for a couple of years now, so I hope that opportunity comes.”
One of the reasons he is so confident stems from the long wait for a victory in 2016, with Verstappen benefiting from the better strategy in Barcelona and then Ricciardo seeing almost certain victory snatched away from him in Monaco by a pit stop error. Reacting to the second disappointment, the 27-year-old says he found the mental strength to not let his frustrations get the better of him.
“I guess each race that passes… I got to a point around Monaco where I was just frustrated, but I sort of changed my perspective and just found the positive side of it. I was like, ‘Look, we’ve been doing the right things and it hasn’t quite aligned, but I’ve been driving well, I am in a good place, if the opportunity is there I will take it.’
“I just sort of said, ‘Keep doing it and it will happen somehow.’ That was sort of the spin I took on it but, sure, the longer time goes on I was like, ‘I really want this now.’ I never lost faith that it wouldn’t happen, but obviously the longer the wait the more of a tease it is.”