Daniel Ricciardo won’t interpret Red Bull Racing’s decision to retain its 2012 driver line-up as a permanent rejection of his own services.
The Australian was signed to Toro Rosso, along with French racer Jean-Éric Vergne, with the team electing dispense with the services of Jaime Alguersuari and Sébastien Buemi at the end of the 2011 season. Both have been touted as the most likely candidates to move into the senior Red Bull Racing team when a vacancy arises.
But Ricciardo’s prospects took a hit when the team opted to re-sign his compatriot, 35-year-old Mark Webber, for another season.
Despite this, the 23-year-old insists he is not disappointed and has set his sights on being retained by Toro Rosso for another year.
Speaking with the West Australian newspaper in his home city of Perth, Ricciardo conceded that neither he nor Vergne was likely to stake a claim of Webber’s race seat, particularly given Webber’s excellent form and his clear desire to continue in the sport.
“I knew there was a lot to be done. But I had 20 races to get through this year and to prove that I could be something extraordinary to take that seat,” he said.
The Toro Rosso team is enduring its worst season since it first came on the scene in 2006, following Red Bull’s buyout of the old Minardi team.
The team has scored just six points all season, with the last points’ finish coming at the second round of the season in Malaysia. The team has since split with its highly-acclaimed technical director, Giorgio Ascanelli.
Despite the team’s woes, Ricciardo believes he has done enough to warrant re-selection by Toro Rosso.
“I don’t think they’re searching for someone to replace me yet, unless the season goes pretty poorly from here,” he continued.
“But if I continue what I’m doing or even improve a bit – that would be nice – I estimate I would stay here.”