YOUNG AUSSIE GUN Daniel Ricciardo has reconfirmed his status as a star to watch after clocking the third fastest time on day two of the Formula 1 young driver’s test at Jerez in Spain.
Driving for Red Bull Racing, Ricciardo was fastest during the morning session, setting a time of 1:19.243. He later fell to third as experienced McLaren tester Gary Paffett and Williams’ Nico Hulkenberg posted quicker times.
Ricciardo managed to complete 93 laps of the undulating circuit as he attempted to earn a reserve driver’s berth with Red Bull for next season.
Speaking with Autosport, Ricciardo said he hadn’t yet spoken to Red Bull management about the prospect of becoming the team’s third driver next season.
“We'll see how the test goes, but not much has been touched on (regarding a testing role) just yet. If this test goes well then that position could be up for grabs,” he said.
The Perth-native may also find himself in contention for a race seat at Toro Rosso after the team failed to confirm Jaime Alguersuari as its second driver earlier in the week.
After a season in Formula 3, Ricciardo was required to undertake a specialised fitness plan to build necessary strength in his neck, with the 20-year-old admitting he was beginning to feel the strain.
However, Ricciardo said his time in F3 put him in good stead to make a successful first tilt in motorsport’s ultimate category.
“To be honest, the F3 car prepared me well for this. The level of grip compared to the power is actually quite similar between the two cars,” he said.
“The F1 car, as funny as it sounds, is a bit underpowered compared to how much grip it has. It was just a case of me getting used to higher corner speeds and better brakes.”
But while the test is almost an audition for Ricciardo, for Red Bull Racing, the three-day program provides a much-needed opportunity to try new aerodynamic components under consideration for next season.
“The first few runs I concentrated on getting used to it,” he said. “We then had quite a bit of aero work to do, so we just quietly worked on it throughout the day. Stuff for next year that the team wanted to try out.”