Daniel Ricciardo says he is ready to mount a serious attempt on the drivers’ title in 2015.
Ricciardo won three times on his way to third in the drivers’ standings behind the dominant Mercedes pairing of eventual champion Lewis Hamilton and runner-up Nico Rosberg in his first season with Red Bull.
With Sebastian Vettel joining Ferrari, Ricciardo will lead Red Bull’s attack in 2015, and he believes he is ready to challenge the favourites Mercedes for top honours in the title battle.
“Looking back I think it was pretty awesome how we won three races when Mercedes were so dominant,” he told the media at a Red Bull media event on Tuesday. “Whether they had problems or not I think we still put ourselves in the right position.
“Even if we halve the gap at the start of the season, it is a good start. We try and be perfect, so when they are not perfect that is when we can start putting some pressure on them.
“[My target is to] win more races and hopefully mount a title fight, a proper one. Last year I was hanging on by a string, but a realistic one this year would be good.”
Red Bull suffered with a power deficit to its rivals in 2014, but with engine development now opened up under a token system, Ricciardo is confident the Milton Keynes-based squad can close the gap to reigning champions Mercedes.
“It is going to help us [the engine unfreeze] definitely,” he continued. “Everyone is going to improve, but you would like to think that Mercedes’ room for improvement is smaller than everyone elses.
“I hope I am right and they don’t have another 50 per cent step on top of what they have, but I think there is more room for us and Ferrari to make that gap. McLaren Honda will be interesting too.
“Mercedes are now the hunted and hopefully we can close that.”
The Australian believes that of all Red Bull’s rivals, McLaren could offer the greatest surprises in 2015, given the team’s switch to Honda power over the winter.
“I expect Williams to be strong again, but the big question mark is McLaren with Honda,” Ricciardo added. “I am actually excited to see how they go.
“They have obviously got the potential to do very well. That is probably the one that everyone is going to be watching to see what sort of step they have made and what they bring to the table.”
This article first appeared on Richland F1 – Image courtesy of Red Bull Media House