West Australian rookie racer Daniel Ricciardo has announced to the motorsport world that he is ready to make the step up to Formula One.
The 21-year-old set the fastest time around Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina circuit at the two-day post season young driver testing session.
His time? 1min38.102sec. The significance? It was a remarkable 1.3 seconds faster than the quickest time set by newly crowned world champion Sebastian Vettel in qualifying last Saturday.
With the extra rubber on the track from the weekend’s Grand Prix, track experts estimated the circuit was around 1.5 seconds quicker for the rookie testing session, but the up-and-comer’s performance in Mark Webber’s Red Bull RB6 was still no doubt impressive.
The testing was just Ricciardo’s fourth full day behind the wheel of an F1 car, after spending this year in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series where he finished second in the championship by just two points.
Ricciardo said the experience in the Red Bull was invaluable was full of praise for the car.
“It was cool to do this test, and great to get so close to the big boys' times from the weekend," he said. "It's very rare to get a perfect car, but I have to say this is very close.”
Ricciardo is yet to finalise his plans for 2011, but a full-time F1 drive seems unlikely.
Vettel and Webber are both contracted to race with Red Bull next season, while Sebastian Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari are both locked in at the No.2 team, Toro Rosso.
“I'm not sure what this test will mean for next year, but I know even more now that this is where I want to be,” Ricciardo said.
"Whether I might be in F1 next year or the following, I will do everything to make sure it happens and I think this test has probably helped me.”