Ricciardo: I'll be "happy enough" with 2016 if I win a race
Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo says he needs a grand prix victory in 2016 to be content with the season.
Ricciardo, who won three Formula 1 races for Red Bull in 2014, twice came close to adding to his tally this year.
But after a wrong strategy call saw him beaten by Max Verstappen in Spain and then a slow pitstop for the Aussie gave Lewis Hamilton the win in Monaco, Ricciardo insists his main objective for 2016 is to return to the top step of the podium.
Asked about his and the team's title hopes in the build-up for Red Bull's home grand prix in Austria, Ricciardo said: "I mean, I think the championship is... I'll never say it's over because we're not even halfway through the season, I think we can at least win a race before the season's out.
"But can we win six or eight, to then put us in a championship fight? Probably not. It's definitely a long shot.
"Obviously the objective is to get on that top step at some point, that'll make me happy enough for '16 and then for '17 hopefully we get a proper fight."
Upturn after 2015 turmoil
Despite his own disappointment at missing out on victory twice, Ricciardo admitted that Red Bull was in a much better place than it had been at the halfway point last year.
That year, Red Bull was yet to score a podium heading into Austria and sat fourth in the constructors' championship, well adrift of Williams.
"This time a year ago it was not looking as positive, that's for sure. But now it's turned around," Ricciardo said.
"You know, you don't see, really, anyone leaving, so we've still got a very good unit of aerodynamicists and all that, engineers, so that's obviously positive.
"I guess, when people start looking, it's probably like 'hey, they're probably losing a bit of faith', but everyone's staying - and Adrian [Newey], I believe, has still got a bit of time on his contract, so that's good.
"And you are starting to see it work now and I think next year is going to be really interesting."
Asked if Red Bull's early struggles last year made him question his future at the outfit at the time, Ricciardo said: "Sure, you think long-term as well and, a year ago... '14 was step down from when the team was in '13. and then the first few races, sort of even half a season in '15, was another pretty significant step down, I think we weren't really close to the podium in the first few races at all.
"So it's like 'okay, if this trend continues, like, what's gonna happen in 2016 and beyond that?' So sure, it does cross your mind, I think it's natural but I was very impressed with how within the season they turned it around.
"From Silverstone to Budapest it was like 'bang' and we then showed the pace in some races from there. So that was good for everyone, I think we all needed it.
"In the end, [this year] it's still been a little been up-and-down, but generally, I know for a fact the car is better than last year, and obviously we're finding more with the engine. I think that's all you can ask for - as long as you feel improvements, then you know you're going in the right direction."
Additional reporting by Jonathan Noble
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