Red Bull Racing duo Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were spotted in Hosier Lane on Wednesday spray-painting the finishing touches to their unique Aston Martin DB11s.
While making sure no paint was dripping off Daniel’s $300,000 supercar, he pointed out how important a strong start is for the weekend and the championship here in Melbourne.
Repeating his previously stated aims, the Australian is gunning to become the first local driver to set foot on the podium in Melbourne.
“Personally, to get on the podium would be great, but for the team, it would be huge,” he said after completing his art class.
“If the other teams are not already aware [of Red Bull’s pace] it would get them going. I think to have a strong [result], it would set the bar for the long-term this year as well as the fight for the championship, so it would be awesome to get off on the right foot.
“It’s my home race also. [I want to] try and give them their money’s worth in a way, but mainly to get the season off on the right foot. Just to get some good points on the board to start off, not have such a big deficit [in the standings] and give the team and all the guys a good start.
“It’s just super important to get a good result here this weekend. I had a taste of it in 2014. It was short-lived, but that taste at the time was very sweet,” Ricciardo added, reflecting on his controversial disqualification for exceeding his fuel flow limits.
But with great results must come strong finishes against the powerhouse teams of Ferrari and Mercedes, the latter who are coming into 2018 with four back-to-back World Championship titles under their belt. However, the threats are starting to come from behind for Ricciardo and his Milton Keynes team with McLaren switching from Honda to Renault power units over the winter break that could potentially catapult the papaya cars into the mix with the ‘big three’ with its star-studded line-up of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne.
Regardless of threat or no-threat, the Australian wouldn’t mind seeing the Woking crew return with great pace.
“I mean personally, you probably won’t believe me, but I hope they’re quick. I hope more teams are up the front fighting, and to have more of a battle up the front for a win would be cool,” he explained.
“Obviously, we are trying to close the gap to Mercedes, but if everyone can kind of close it and build up, I think that would be a lot more fun for everyone.”
An issue increasingly dominating the Australian’s media coverage is speculation over his whereabouts in 2019, without a lap having been turned in anger this year. The Australian is off-contract and reportedly under consideration by Ferrari, but the Australian was quick to stress his heart lay with his current employers – provided of course the RB14 proves competitive.
“At the moment, I’m not really too bothered with it,” he answered.
“At the end of the day, if I don’t have a contract for 2019 I can have a year off and not do 100 flights a year, maybe that’s nice – I don’t know!
“I’m not in any rush; I think the results at the end of the day will do the talking. For any of us who are out of contract, whoever is in the hot seat is necessarily someone who does the best negotiating, but someone who gets the results on track.
“That’s my focus to come out on the right foot here in Melbourne and try and hopefully fight for a title this year.”
Image via Aston Martin Red Bull Racing