Daniel Ricciardo has set his sights on outpacing Hispania teammate Vitantonio Liuzzi "sooner rather than later" as he bids to secure his long-term future in Formula 1.
Ricciardo, a Red Bull protégé, has already shown rapid improvement in his first two grands prix, qualifying just 0.025sec slower than Liuzzi at the Nurburgring. The Australian says that while Red Bull's motorsport adviser Helmut Marko has not set him any specific targets, he understands the need to impress quickly – and that means getting the upper hand on Liuzzi.
Asked whether Marko had set him any specific goals, Ricciardo said: "He doesn't say, 'By tomorrow you have to out-qualify him or that is it.' But I know what he wants more or less and I know it is better to do these things sooner rather than later.
"He definitely expects me to be getting some results – I think he wants to see me out-qualifying and outracing Tonio and mixing it with the Virgin guys. At the same time, I cannot get too caught up in what Tonio is doing – if that is my only focus and only task then maybe I will forget about my own tasks. First I will worry about myself and then hopefully the lap time will come. The Nurburgring was definitely a good step forward for me, though, and now I just have to make that next step, and maybe this weekend I can ramp it up a little bit more."
Although Ricciardo remains one of Red Bull's brightest prospects, the team elected to place him within HRT rather than Toro Rosso – and Ricciardo says he would consider spending next year with the Spanish squad if no other options became available.
"For now, I really want to establish myself in F1 and set up a nice future, so if it is here again, and nothing else opens up and I don't deserve to go forward with the current situation, then that is fine.
"The long-term goal is to be World Champion and that is really what I have in my mindset. Wherever that is in a few years' time is where it will be, but I think as long as I can keep the relationship with Red Bull they will find the best position for me and the position I deserve at the end of the day."