The moment has almost arrived for Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Only three races remain before the young Australian can start the transition from STR to Red Bull Racing, where he’ll become the new teammate to four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel starting next season.
And as Ricciardo’s big opportunity looms ever closer, the pressure will only build more and more. For example, RBR boss Christian Horner has high expectations for him, telling the media this past week that he thinks Ricciardo “will be a bit of a surprise” in his first year alongside Vettel.
It’ll all be a massive challenge for Ricciardo, who broke into Formula One back in 2011. But it is one that he is accepting whole-heartedly.
“It definitely spurs me on,” he said to NBCSN’s Will Buxton during this weekend’s proceedings at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. “The more I grow up and the more I stay in Formula One, the more I realize how much I want to do it – how much I want to be here, and how much I want to be the best.
“I want to measure myself against the best guys and the fact that [Vettel] is in the form of his life is so refreshing. If I can find a way to give him a bit of a push, it’s going to be a very rewarding feeling.”
For more of Buxton’s one-on-one interview with Ricciardo, check out the video above. Ricciardo will start ninth for tomorrow’s race from Abu Dhabi, which you can see live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra at 7:30 a.m. ET.