Ricciardo makes an early splash

Daniel Ricciardo made an early plunge into the action ahead of Sunday’s season-opening 2017 Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix when he swapped his Red Bull Racing car for a boat on the Yarra River on Wednesday.

His only rival on the water was his 19-year-old Dutch team-mate Max Verstappen – someone he is spending plenty of time with this week….

“We’ve been on six dinners already,” he said, flashing his familiar wide grin. “He brought me breakfast yesterday morning, but we don’t share a room ... not yet!”

Beaming with fun, Ricciardo did his usual bright stuff in front of the cameras at the pre-arranged media event ahead of his weekend’s Australian Grand Prix. 

“We try to keep it as amicable as possible,” he added, in more serious mode. “I think last year was perfect.

“We both want to win. We both want to beat each other and at the same time we’ve also got a team that is trying to build fast racing cars.

“They rely on us to not only push the car, but to give feedback and to push the technology of the car.

“We know that two heads is better than one and we understand that and we are only helping ourselves if we help each other because the car is going to be faster and give us a better chance to win.”

In his first official public appearance this year, Ricciardo was as relaxed as ever and revealed that he is relishing his chance to roar through the corners and fight for a podium finish.

“I kind of learned a few years ago that you want to win every race, but no one has ever done that,” he said, adding that he is keeping his hopes realistic.

“So you have got to expect to not always win – but at the same time I want to win. It’s my aim. It’s my target to be world champion and I’ll do all I can to make it happen this year.

“But I’m not saying I expect it!”

His serious expectations, he said, were that Ferrari and Mercedes will be quick – and he hopes he can stay with them.

And, he added, the fans should be in for a treat with a much better spectacle in prospect thanks to the new technical rules and the ‘fatter and faster’ cars.

“I think when you’re live on track and you see us cornering at these speeds, you’re getting more for your money as well -- the high-speed corners for me is what you enjoy the most.

“That’s where F1 cars make the difference to other categories.

“Like at Barcelona, in Turn Three, we were doing close to 40 kph more than we were last year – so, you’re going from 220 to 260. That’s more fun for sure!”

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