Sebastian Vettel said, “We still have a lot of work to do with the car, but it was encouraging to see that our pace was better than expected in Australia. Hopefully we can build on that and start collecting some strong points in the next two races. Next stop is Kuala Lumpur, which I like as a city. Downtown can sometimes seem sterile, but then you turn a corner and the streets burst into life with the night markets. Whenever I have time, I try to go there and see what they have to offer. Looking to the track, the two overtaking possibilities are the first corner and before the last corner, which in both cases is after a long straight. My favorite corners are five and six. Beside the challenge of the circuit, you have to cope with the tropical heat. We can be driving in humidity of up to 90 percent, while big thunderstorms in the afternoon are not uncommon. From there we go to Bahrain, where we’ve recently been for winter testing, so it will feel quite familiar. After the high humidity in Malaysia it will be nice to go to dry heat. Because the circuit is in the middle of the desert, sand can be blown up in the wind on to the racing line. The circuit has a nice combination of fast, slow and medium corners and is pretty technical to drive. I also like the rosewater they have instead of champagne!”
Daniel Ricciardo said, “Despite the eventual outcome in Melbourne, I still feel really good about my performance in the race and throughout the weekend. Obviously it would be nice to get the 18 points, but I’m happy that I still stood on the podium and that was a great feeling. I know I did a good job, and I can take that with me to the next race in Malaysia. One thing you have to take into account there is the heat. I first drove at Sepang when I was 16 in a four-day Formula BMW test, and you couldn’t really say I was prepared for it! ! Until you’ve experienced the heat in the cockpit, it isn’t something you can fully appreciate, no matter what people tell you. I was drinking six liters of fluid a day and I still suffered. It’s something you prepare for better as you come back again and again, though it’s still one of the most physically challenging races. If you’re not correctly prepared then the last 20 laps of a grand prix will be difficult and the physicality of the race can hit your concentration in those latter stages. And so you train, train and train! The race is back to back with Bahrain. I’m not certain what effect two weeks of pre-season testing there is going to have when we race there. Everyone’s had a bit of a chance to get their set-up dialed in, so that may bring the field closer together. The circuit isn’t one of my favorites, as you can’t get a brilliant flow there, but there are a couple of technical turns to put us drivers and the cars through our paces. The RB10 surprised us in Australia by being more competitive than we thought in the dry and the wet, so let’s see what the next two races bring.”
Here’s more from at Q&A with Daniel Ricciardo
Q1: Daniel, the race itself, what did you think of your first grand prix driving for Infiniti Red Bull Racing?
Ricciardo: That was definitely a good grand prix for me – great to start on the front row after a tricky qualifying session. I stayed cool at the lights and got a good run down to Turn One and was able to hold onto P2. From there I was able to run the race I wanted and control my own fate. The Mercedes obviously had superior pace. Second was always going to be the best I could hope for, and I was really happy to deliver that. Crossing the line and having the crowd all jump up on their feet and applaud – that was pretty special. It’s different to how you imagine it.
Q2: It looked like you enjoyed the podium ceremony.
Ricciardo: I’m not sure enjoy is the right word. With Alan Jones doing the podium interview it all felt very surreal. A bit far-fetched actually – genuinely an unbelievable moment – and something I won’t forget in a hurry.
Q3: And afterwards…
Ricciardo: Yeah – that puts a bit of a downer on what had been a brilliant day. It’s not how I imagined celebrating after my first F1 podium. I still went out to catch up with a couple of mates but it’s fair to say the mood wasn’t as wild as it might have been.
Q4: Are there positives to take away from the race?
Ricciardo: Actually it’s mostly positives. I did a good job in the car and I got to stand on the Australian Grand Prix podium – and no one’s taking the sensation of doing that away. What happens next is outside of my ability to control but honestly, I’d rather it went down like this than have retired from the race with a mechanical problem. I’ll take a podium and a subsequent disqualification over that any day of the week.
Q5: So, what comes next?
Ricciardo: Albert Park’s made me hungry to get on the podium again, and I think we’ve got a really good chance of doing it. The work we did in the winter targeted reliability rather than performance. It was only in Melbourne that we got the opportunity to start working on a set-up. The RB10 surprised us by being pretty competitive in the dry and very competitive in the wet. It’s going to get much better as we dial it in over the next few races and catch up with those teams that did more miles pre-season.
Q6: How competitive do you think the RB10 is?
Ricciardo: At the moment, we’re in the battle to be the second-best team. Obviously that isn’t where we want to be, but it’s exceeding our expectations of only a few weeks ago. I think once we really get into the setup of the car, we’ll be able to close the gap to Mercedes. Obviously they’re going to improve too, but I think we’re in a good position to make bigger strides.