Ricciardo 'calm and collected' despite dream start

15 Mar 2014 09:31

Australia's Daniel Ricciardo insisted he'll stay "calm and collected" and won't be celebrating early despite a dream debut qualifying drive for Red Bull at his home grand prix on Saturday.

Ricciardo looked to have secured pole position in the final seconds of rain-hit qualifying, bringing a huge roar from the Australian crowd, only for Lewis Hamilton to snatch it away with his last flying lap.

The 24-year-old, who has replaced retired compatriot Mark Webber at Red Bull, also out-qualified his illustrious team-mate Sebastian Vettel, the four-time defending world champion, who flopped and finished 13th.

Ricciardo now gets the chance to win the Australian Grand Prix, a feat which eluded Webber, when he lines up alongside Hamilton on the front row for Sunday's season-opener.

"For me to start the season with a front row does a lot of good things for the confidence," Ricciardo said.

"But it's just the start and I have to race tomorrow and try to finish up the order and see how the season progresses, but the last couple of days have been really positive for us.

"I'm really excited, but at the same time still staying calm and collected because tomorrow is what counts so there's no point having a party tonight and not focusing on tomorrow."

While Ricciardo is adapting well to the daunting task of pairing with Vettel, he said he was also pleased at how Red Bull's troubled new car held up in the wet conditions.

"At the start of the year we were all fearing how difficult these new animals would be in wet conditions, it's always a bit of handful but at the same time it was quite nice behind the wheel.

"It was the first time we've all driven these cars on the limit in wet conditions. It was tricky but at the same time it was a lot of fun and definitely really nice for the first qualifying session (for Red Bull)."

But he said for Sunday's race, driving to the newly introduced fuel limit -- one of a number of technical changes -- would be one of the top challenges.

"Fuel is probably the question mark for a lot of teams, we still haven't done a race distance yet so it will be a case of understanding more with each lap we do," he said.

Meanwhile Hamilton said was not surprised to see Ricciardo, who spent the last two seasons with Toro Rosso and has never placed higher than seventh, make an immediate impact with his new team.

"Daniel has shown some great performances in previous years and he's got a good head on his shoulders," the 2008 world champion said.

"He's pretty talented. It's expected to be honest, plus Red Bull has been at the top for some time so you had to assume this year they're going to be very close to us. Without doubt they did an exceptional job."