• Daniel Ricciardo interview

'We need to find the results'

Laurence Edmondson July 1, 2012

After showing off his skills in a Red Bull RB7 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Daniel Ricciardo spoke to ESPNF1 about life at Toro Rosso, the Caterham threat and his team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne

Daniel Ricciardo races for Toro Rosso this year after making his debut a year ago with HRT © Sutton Images

Toro Rosso technical director Giorgio Ascanelli recently said that your qualifying lap in Bahrain, which secured you sixth on the grid was "quite extraordinary" and compared it to Sebastian Vettel's breakthrough moment at Toro Rosso in 2008. Now that you've had a bit of time to reflect on it, has that been the case?
Everything worked very well on that Saturday. I don't think I did anything really that differently - I definitely felt comfortable with the car and I think for that reason just had a really good mindset going into qualifying. I basically just built up each session and got quicker and quicker, rather than trying too hard too soon. And then the lap time came. Unfortunately we haven't had a similar result since then but it definitely helped my season. Obviously the race was poor but the qualifying itself gave us a bit of hope and some belief if we were lacking it.

Is it the same as the other teams? They talk about tyres being an issue, is that the biggest hurdle to get over; is it getting car set-up for the tyres or something else?
I think it's definitely difficult with the tyres, but I wouldn't say that's all of our problems. We've got to still sort out some more stuff. We brought in some new exhausts for Canada, they seemed a little bit better but I think everyone else had these new exhausts and they found a good chunk and we haven't really found that same chunk of performance. So trying to get on top of that has been a little bit difficult because it changes the balance of the car. You need to start adjusting your brake balance and other things with the KERS to try and rebalance all of these things that you're adding to the car and we haven't quite found a good correlation between it all yet. So I'd say that is as much as the tyres, definitely.

At the start of the season Ascanelli said that the exhausts are a difficult area for the smaller teams to develop because you need the technology and computing power to get it right. Now that that seems to be becoming the focus again, do you think we'll see the top teams start to stretch their lead?
I sort of expected it earlier, to be honest. Even Valencia was one of our poorer qualifyings, if not the poorest, but there we were still only about two seconds off the top guys. Obviously that's more than we want, but it's not really three or four seconds and it's maybe what it was last year from the top teams to the midfield. Everyone's just bunched up a lot more this year. I think we have to act quite quickly now. Well, we are acting but we need to find the results on the track in the next couple of rounds, otherwise definitely after the summer break the top teams will really start to pull away a bit more. So far it's stayed closer than we all expected - which is good!

Looking over your shoulder, Caterham seem to be finding some pace; are you now worrying about beating them to get into Q2 rather than aiming for Q3?
No, not at all. Although I do believe they've got some more updates for Silverstone - some that they are quite modest about - and it will probably work and they had good pace in Valencia. I think with overall pace we're still a fair bit in front, it's just the qualifying we have to soak a bit more out of. I think it's between us drivers and also understanding a bit more with the tyres. But then our race pace still seems to be quite a bit stronger than theirs. I think if we don't get on top of our qualifying they will have more opportunities to be in front of us, but I still think our race pace will clearly be better than theirs.

Are you mainly focusing on getting this exhaust working, or will you be bringing major upgrades to the upcoming races?
I think we're going to stick the exhaust. We had a full programme for it planned, but we don't really feel that's the right way to go. So we're staying with it but we're going to try to exploit a different route of it basically. What we will eventually run wasn't the original plan, I think, but we've found what will probably be the best way to go. So we'll keep it and I think for Silverstone we might have a few little tweaks, maybe an extra little gurney [flap] on the floor or the front wing, but nothing like a proper update, not yet. I think in Budapest maybe we'll get a bit more downforce out of the car than we did in Monaco. That's something I'm looking forward to seeing if we can really make a step forward at that race.

Daniel Ricciardo is confident he is making progress at Toro Rosso © Getty Images
Are the team really leaning on you and your work on Friday practice sessions and are you finding yourself right at the centre of the development programme?
Yeah, I do and it's good to be a part of it. If I don't feel I'm involved then I try to get involved. Not to the point that I'm losing sleep thinking about the car because it's not really my job and I guess the engineers are there to do that. But I do want to know what we can do to get better and I'm trying to soak up as much as I can. Also Jean-Eric [Vergne] has been involved quite a bit and even though he's got a little bit less experience, he still seems to speak up in the meetings. Away from the race weekends our engineers call us up in the week to try and get some conclusions from the weekend. So we're definitely, for our level, doing as much as we can. It will probably just take a bit more time.

Talking about Jean-Eric, you seem to have the upper-hand at the moment at Toro Rosso. Is that how you see it from your perspective inside the team?
I guess on paper with the qualifyings it's been good. I think it's 7-1, which is nice. I guess the first thing is that you look at your team-mate, but if we're 17th and 18th then even if I'm 0.3s or 0.4s quicker than him it's not going to give me a great sense of satisfaction. I think we've always got to push for more. He's had some strong races and I think the last few have been stronger. I'm finding a bit more, which is good for the Sunday, so that's encouraging. If I can keep working this way then in qualifying I think I've already got a bit of an edge and in the race hopefully I can run away and get my nose clean in front. But in saying that, we can't really afford to try to push each other down because as a team we've got to try and get each other up. The rivalry is pretty good at the moment. I'd say it's healthy.