The West

Ricciardo still confident despite disappointments
Ricciardo still confident despite disappointments

Perth Formula One racer Daniel Ricciardo says he expects to be at Scuderia Toro Rosso next year despite having been left unsatisfied with his first half of this season.

The 23-year-old finished 15th in the Hungarian Grand Prix nine days ago.

It continues a frustrating run of results in which Ricciardo has at times threatened to finish in the top 10 without being able to force his way into the points.

His ninth place at the first race in Melbourne remains his best finish.

Ricciardo is yet to be told he will get a second year at Red Bull's sister team, but said it was a likely scenario if he at least maintained his performances behind the wheel.

"I don't think I've done a bad job," Ricciardo said.

"I don't think they're searching for someone to replace me yet, unless the season goes pretty poorly from here. But if I continue what I'm doing or even improve a bit - that would be nice - I estimate I would stay here."

The Duncraig driver is in the midst of a five-week break from racing leading into the Belgium Grand Prix on September 2.

With nine races left to prove his mettle, Ricciardo knows at least one more breakout performance would shore up his full-time seat at Toro Rosso.

He said the mid-season break would allow the team to reboot, with the aim of gaining ground on the likes of Sauber, Williams and Force India.

"We realistically haven't been good enough to finish in the top 10 on Sundays," Ricciardo said.

"It's a really good time to gather a few thoughts, myself and the team, and maybe we can get something going for the second half.

"It's long and there's a lot of fly-aways as well, so I think we'll have different environments that we'll be racing in and maybe that can influence us with better results.

"We've been a little bit left behind, which obviously hasn't been what we planned.

"But if they (other teams) have made a step during the season, then we're hoping we can make one, too, and find something."

Ricciardo had entered 2012 billed as an outside chance to replace Mark Webber at Red Bull next year if the veteran Australian driver retired and his younger protégé had an outstanding year.

That door officially closed last month when Webber re-signed for 2013.

"Not in a negative way, but I never thought it would happen, at least for next season," Ricciardo said.

"I knew there was a lot to be done.

"But I had 20 races to get through this year and to prove that I could be something extraordinary to take that seat."

Ricciardo no longer feels like a rookie driver on the circuit. He has come to know the harsh realities of F1 but has not lost his high hopes.

"Sometimes I think we've put in a real strong weekend and maybe it hasn't been good enough for 13th place, but that's how it is," Ricciardo said. "Last year I was racing hard to finish 20th.

"It's never going to be easy and you've got to be patient, have faith that the car will get better. I will improve as well and with that we'll get a good result again soon."

"I don't think I've done a bad job. I don't think they're searching for someone to replace me yet."" *Daniel Ricciardo *

The West Australian

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