Red Bull pick Ricciardo for 2014

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Red Bull Racing announced today that they have signed Toro Rosso driver Daniel Riccardo as their 2014 driver. Ricciardo will replace his fellow countryman, Mark Webber, who is retiring at the end of the 2013 season. Team boss Christian Horner said:

“It’s fantastic to confirm Daniel as the team’s race driver for 2014. He’s a very talented youngster, he’s committed, he’s got a great attitude and in the end it was a very logical choice for us to choose Daniel. He joined the Red Bull Junior Team in 2008 and we’ve seen in his junior career in Formula 3 and Renault World Series that he’s capable of winning races and championships. He’s stood out in each of these categories and we’ve followed his progress with great interest. He’s got all the attributes that are required to drive for our team: he’s got a great natural ability, he’s a good personality and a great guy to work with. Daniel knows what the team expects from him; he’ll learn quickly and it’s very much a medium to long term view that we’re taking in developing him. The seat within the team is a wonderful opportunity and I think he’s going to be a big star of the future.”

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Ricciardo is part of the Red Bull driver development program with its sister team, Toro Rosso. Many fans were wondering why the team existed if not to advance drivers from their ranks to the Red Bull team. IT seems that’s exactly what they’ve done. Adrian Newey said:

“Since Mark announced his retirement, Christian and I have been looking carefully at the driver market, along with Helmut Marko and Dietrich Mateschitz. We could have taken an experienced driver, somebody guaranteed to deliver to a relatively known level, or equally we could take on a much younger driver in the hope that they’ll develop to a very high level. We looked at the latter option and concluded that of the younger drivers, Daniel is the most promising. From Red Bull’s point of view that also fits well because the driver that Christian and I feel is the most promising is part of the Red Bull young driver programme. The decision actually reminded me a little bit of a similar situation we had when I was at Williams. Nigel Mansell was leaving and we needed someone alongside Alain Prost. We could stick with Riccardo Patrese or take a punt on a young driver called Damon Hill who was our test driver at the time. I think it’s good to bring young blood in and give promising drivers a chance.”

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For Daniel Riccardo it’s the chance of a lifetime to secure the hottest seat in Formula 1:

“I feel very, very good at the moment and obviously there’s a lot of excitement running through me. Since joining F1 in 2011, I hoped this would happen and over time the belief in me has grown; I had some good results and Red Bull has decided that this is it, so it’s a good time. Next year I’ll be with a Championship-winning team, arguably the best team, and will be expected to deliver. I’m ready for that. I’m not here to run around in tenth place, I want to get the best results for myself and the team. I would like to thank the team for giving me the opportunity to show what I can do. I know the team quite well already since being its reserve driver in 2010, which should make the transition easier. It will be a great challenge to be up against Sebastian Vettel, I’m looking forward to that. My aim is to finish this season as strong as possible, for myself and Scuderia Toro Rosso. Then, once the off-season is here, I’ll be fully focussed on next year and the next stage of my career.”

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