Daniel Ricciardo admits becoming dominant Toro Rosso driver first goal for future move
Australian says beating Vergne will "start to turn some heads"
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 12/03/13 4:54pm
Daniel Ricciardo admits that "convincingly" outperforming his Toro Rosso team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne is the first mark he must hit if he is to start putting himself at the front of the shop window for a future Red Bull drive.
The second-year battle between Toro Rosso's two young drivers is one of the more intriguing sub-plots on the 2013 grid with both aiming to make a bigger impact after indifferent first campaigns with Red Bull's junior outfit.
While their duel last year was already billed as an effective shootout to replace the veteran Mark Webber at the World Champions, the Australian's decision last summer to extend his stay at the Milton Keynes team by a least another season meant any decision to make on selecting a successor was put on hold for now.
But with Webber only ever signing one-year deals, and at 36 now the oldest driver in Formula 1, speculation as to whether he again renews his contract is likely to reappear at some point in the new season - with both Ricciardo and Vergne inevitable names in the frame to eventually replace him.
Asked by Sky Sports News ahead of his home grand prix in Melbourne what he needed to do to convince the relevant parties that he should be next in line, Ricciardo acknowledged beating Vergne on a consistent basis was a key target.
"The fight is firstly with the team-mate, you've got to try and beat him convincingly - I think that will start to turn some heads- and then see what happens from there," the 23-year-old told Craig Slater.
"Obviously we want to consistently get more points this year but try and [also I need] do the best I can and that has to be finishing ahead of the Frenchman alongside me."
With both drivers aiming at the same end Red Bull goal, Ricciardo admitted last month that he and Vergne were "not friends", and speaking to Sky Sports News, the Australian added: "We still get along in a way that we talk to each other and it's not that we completely ignore each other.
"But when it's your first, or your main, rival it's hard to be best mates with them - I think that's with all the teams and all the drivers, they'd answer the question very similarly."
Both drivers are hoping to have access to a more competitive car for 2013 after Toro Rosso generally fell away from their usual midfield rivals for a lot of last season.
With winter testing with the STR8 having gone solidly, Ricciardo is hopeful they will be able to kick off the new campaign fighting for points finishes
"We hope so and definitely that's the plan," he added. "I have faith that it can definitely deliver some better results.
"We still have to see; testing was not so clear for everyone and conditions probably didn't really help, so this week in Melbourne and Malaysia we'll get a better idea of where we are - and hopefully that's definitely in the points."