Daniel Ricciardo. Picture: Getty Images.
Daniel Ricciardo. Picture: Getty Images.

Daniel Ricciardo says he will not settle for anything less than finishing a career-high third in this year's championship race as he takes his "sky-high" confidence into the second half of the season.

The 25-year-old Duncraig racer is sitting on 98 points behind only dominant Mercedes pairing Nico Rosberg (165) and Lewis Hamilton (161) in the title standings.

His dynamic start as a full-time Red Bull driver has surprised even those within his own team.

However, Ricciardo remains wary of the competition still breathing down his neck, with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso sitting fourth and only 11 points adrift of WA's young star heading into tomorrow's German Grand Prix.

Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel is sixth on 70 points and desperate to salvage a disappointing season starting with his home grand prix at the Hockenheim circuit.

Thunderstorms have been forecast for tomorrow's race to add extra spice to the competition.

Ricciardo said his main ambition at the start of the season had been to post his first Formula One race victory, but he admitted last month's breakthrough triumph in Canada had forced him to raise the bar.

"In terms of motivation I'm rocketing or sky-high at the moment," he said. "I'm more hungry and ready than I ever have been and that's growing all the time.

"I think if Mercedes continue as they have all year and their form stays how it is then yes, I'll be very happy with third because I think realistically that's the best thing we can do.

"But obviously I'd love to keep chipping away and try and close the gap. It is a long way ahead, but we'll see. It's a long season and I still believe we're only going to get quicker.

"So we'll keep (challenging), but I'm not going to settle for anything less than third in the title."

Ricciardo has achieved the unexpected in overshadowing Vettel. It is a hot streak that recently prompted compatriot and former Red Bull driver Mark Webber to rate Ricciardo as the best F1 driver this season.

The Perth racer labelled Webber's praise as "really cool" and said he was learning to deal with his increased profile in the wake of his Canadian GP success.

"I get noticed in more places," Ricciardo said. "Don't get me wrong - I'm sure it's not up to Hollywood status yet.

"I can still be my own man, but maybe someone will surprise me and say 'is that (Daniel)' in a place I thought maybe I wouldn't get recognised. But it's cool.

"Within the F1 environment, everyone's showed me more respect now. You can just feel the environment is a bit kinder and from the drivers as well, they're showing that you can see now I'm not just a young kid with a big smile. I'm a racer."

"I'm more hungry and ready than I ever have been and that's growing all the time."" *Daniel Ricciardo *

The West Australian

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