Mar 9, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT
March 16th 2014 will be an important date in Daniel Ricciardo’s diary. Having made his debut mid-way through the 2011 season for HRT, the Australian driver will finally get the chance to prove his worth as he makes his first appearance for Red Bull.
The defending world champions promoted Ricciardo from sister team Toro Rosso after Mark Webber confirmed his retirement from Formula 1 at the end of last season. After two years battling in the midfield, a berth at Red Bull is a huge opportunity for Ricciardo.
However, his first race for the team is made all the more important by the fact that it is his home event: the Australian Grand Prix.
“If we went to Malaysia or Bahrain for the first race then I’d be able to ease into my career with Red Bull Racing but in Oz, I assume the weekend will be right up there in my face!” he joked. “I’ll enjoy it and hopefully use the positive energy of the crowd to give me a good result.”
The race, held at Albert Park in Melbourne, has been the curtain-raiser for all but two years since 1996, and Ricciardo says that is a source of pride for Australia to have such an honor.
“Albert Park always tends to be a pretty exciting race. It’s great that Australia has a grand prix and a source of pride that it’s everybody’s choice to kick-start the season.
“I’m very, very excited about the new season. It’s always good fun going to Melbourne, it’s a great city and I like racing on street circuits.”
Ricciardo will be the sole Australian driver to be racing in Formula 1 this season following Webber’s retirement, and he will be hoping that Red Bull’s testing disaster doesn’t continue into the opening round of the season next weekend.