Daniel Ricciardo says 'small error' led to him beaching Red Bull at Silverstone test
But 2014 contender believes he did "all I could" across key RB9 run
By James Galloway at Silverstone
Last Updated: 19/07/13 2:48pm
The Australian youngster took part in what effectively amounted to a public 'audition' for the 2014 seat alongside Sebastian Vettel in the afternoon on Thursday, Ricciardo moving over from his regular seat in junior team Toro Rosso in which he had set the pace in the morning.
Having been challenged by Red Bull chief Christian Horner to make the most of the "great opportunity" that the test presented him with, Ricciardo made a strong start as he set the day's second-fastest time on his opening flying lap, but six laps later blotted his copybook when he beached the car in the gravel at Luffield.
However, with the RB9 sustaining no serious damage, Red Bull's mechanics were swiftly able to get the Australian on his way again and he went on to complete 59 laps in the third-fastest time - which took him over the century for the day following his 48 laps in his usual ST8.
His early moment in the gravel had undoubtedly made it an unfortunate start for Ricciardo, however, and speaking to reporters afterwards he admitted he had simply gone too hot into the corner.
"Just my mistake really. Lost the rear on the entry and probably just pushing a little bit too hard," Ricciardo admitted.
"The gravel is a bit like quicksand - I thought I'd get out but I didn't. I saw them [the mechanics] they weren't really busy in the garage so I thought I'd give them a job to do and clean the car! It was just a small error."
That mistake aside, Ricciardo appeared more than content with how the afternoon as a whole had gone - particularly as the runs he was able to complete in the RB9 were dictated by Pirelli's strict tyre-testing guidelines.
"I feel good," he said. "It's still a bit of a blur, it was pretty hectic day - even yesterday going between meetings in both trucks trying to soak it all in. So I'll look back on a few things tonight and wake up tomorrow and have a better understanding of how it all went.
"I think I drove to my ability and did what I could. It's a bit tricky with the circumstances - we weren't really allowed to adjust the car. Ideally you would like to make some mechanical changes and set the car up for the conditions, but it's going to be the same for all the guys and it was a good opportunity to get behind the wheel and experience two different beasts."
F1's otherwise stringent in-season testing restrictions means Thursday's running represented Ricciardo's sole chance to drive the RB9 before Red Bull make their final decision over the coveted 2014 seat, with the World Champions having suggested they will announce their move by "late summer".
Horner all-but confirmed to Sky Sports News on Wednesday that the race to replace Webber was now a direct battle between Ricciardo and 2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen. The younger contender, however, is relaxed about the situation and believes Red Bull's hierarchy won't make the decision strictly on the outcome of one half-day of testing.
"I don't know. We'll see what happens," he said.
"It's not my decision. I've still got the season ahead with Toro Rosso and the last few races have been better so just trying to continue like that. I think this test is something for Red Bull to look at but there's still the rest of the season which they'll observe, so I won't get too caught up in today and I'll now switch my focus back to Toro Rosso."
But whatever Red Bull do ultimately decide, Ricciardo said the chance to drive the RB9 was special irrespective of the circumstances.
"Whatever happens, happens," he insisted. "Obviously it was nice to get a few laps in the car. Testing is pretty limited so to get that small opportunity and to see what it's like, if I don't get the chance further down the track that was already a nice little bonus."
Nonetheless, after showing decent speed in his time on track, and ahead of Vettel's run in the car on Friday, Ricciardo joked: "I'll watch Seb's times and hopefully they won't put me to shame!"