Sport Motorsport Pressure? What pressure? Ricciardo relaxed

Pressure? What pressure? Ricciardo relaxed

Daniel Ricciardo after his stunning qualifying performance.
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Daniel Ricciardo has adopted a “she’ll be right” attitude ahead of his Formula One debut with heavyweights Red Bull in Melbourne on Sunday.

Unlike the frenzied Albert Park fans who celebrated Ricciardo dramatically qualifying second fastest, the affable driver could not appear more laidback as the nation sweated on a long overdue local champion.

No Australian has won at home since the Australian Grand Prix became part of the F1 world championship in 1985.

But suddenly Ricciardo appears ready to achieve something the man he replaced at Red Bull, Mark Webber, never could – savour an Albert Park triumph.

Not that he was getting ahead of himself.

Asked how he would sleep on Saturday night, Ricciardo flashed his trademark grin and said: “She’ll be right.

“For me to start the season with a front row does a lot of good things for the confidence.

“Obviously it’s just the start…but the last couple of days have been really positive.

“I’m really excited but at the same time still staying calm and collected because tomorrow is what counts definitely.

“I heard all the crowd on the cool-down lap. All I can say is hopefully I hear that tomorrow.”

Ricciardo revelled in Saturday’s wet qualifying conditions and narrowly missed out on becoming the first Australian to take pole in his home race, finishing three tenths of a second behind Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

The West Australian notched his career best in qualifying, bettering his fifth place at last year’s British Grand Prix when driving for Toro Rosso.

Hamilton’s pole position equalled British compatriot Nigel Mansell’s career tally of 32.

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg was third fastest ahead of McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.

Ricciardo’s teammate, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, will start from 12th after slipping up in the wet and failing to make the third and final qualifying session.

The jury is out ahead of the season opener on how the new V6 turbo hybrid engines and reconfigured aerodynamics will perform over Melbourne’s two-hour race.

Rather than speed, engine and fuel management appears the key with fuel limits cut to 100kg this year, compared to around 160kg last year.

“Fuel is probably the question mark for a lot of teams,” Ricciardo said.

“We still haven’t down a race distance yet so I think it’s probably going to be one of the things we’re going to understand each lap we do in the race.

“I won’t get ahead of myself. I have still got a bit to prove and establish myself up the front.

“But I will give it a good crack.”