Ricciardo will keep chasing the world title for as long as it takes

Australian Grand Prix hero Daniel Ricciardo doesn't want to be climbing into a race suit and gunning an F1 engine on the Albert Park grid when he's 40.

But if that's how long it takes him to achieve his long cherished ambition of winning a world title, then so be it, grins the Western Australian.

At 29, Ricciardo still smiles and laughs like a man who can't believe he's lucky enough to be getting paid vast sums to do what he loves.

Seven year window? Daniel Ricciardo on his world championship hopes.Credit:Joe Armao

But he acknowledges that he is no longer the touchy-feely, smily kid who charmed the global Formula One audience from the the day he made his debut in a car run by the now defunct HRT squad.

''I feel good and I am healthy (and) I think I have got more years in it than I think I do,'' Ricciardo says when asked how long he will still be in the game.

''The years go so fast … I certainly don't want to say that I don't want to be here until I am 40, but ideally I am not here until I am 40.

''Ideally I have achieved what I need to and what I want before then and then I go and do something else with my life.''

And what if he hasn't won a world title in the next few years, or even an Australian Grand Prix, which has not been his luckiest race?

''If it takes that long to get a world title I will probably keep sticking around. It will take as long as it needs.

''This whole transition to Renault now will be a process, but the opportunities in front of me, this will be my quickest route to a world title."

Does it scare him to think he might not win his home grand prix?

''I want it (a home win) sooner rather than later (and) I think it’s really up to me how much longer I’ll be in the sport.

''That’s one thing that will probably keep me motivated until I get an Aussie podium or an Aussie win. I think that will keep getting me out of bed to start a new season. That will keep me going.

''In my head now I’ve got more than, you know, five, six, seven years of chances to get that back.

''I think a lot can happen in that time.

''I don’t fear it never happening. I hope it does. I’ll try. I’ll definitely try. For me, of course, but for everyone. For the sake of the fans.''

Chasing that world title was the key reason Ricciardo made the dramatic switch from one of the front running teams in Red Bull Racing to the French squad.

Next year we have got to be a regular podium car. Realistically, sitting here today we wouldn't expect a world title next year, but if we started getting podiums that would keep everyone excited enough to kick on.

''Unfortunately when I got there (to Red Bull in 2014) it was after four world titles, so naturally I got there, I believed I could do well against Seb (Vettel, the world champion and Red Bull's number one driver).

''I didn't know, but I thought if I did well against Seb that could translate to a world title in my first year with the team. Unfortunately because of that the expectations was so high.

''I had some wins and some awesome moments, but I always ended up a little bit disappointed because you felt you could have done more. The team should have been getting better results.''

In the end, says Ricciardo, it just felt like the right time to go.

''Then the switch with Honda (Red Bull is using the Japanese company's engines this season) and the way my season was going, it just felt in the end quite risky for me to stay.

''If the Honda didn't work then it was another kind of lost hope or failed mission. I think that just would have made me more frustrated.

''I just needed a change. There was too much risk of me getting a bit unhappy which I didn't want. The results last year turned me a bit that way.

''I thought I had still got more years in this sport and I didn't want it to be shortened by me getting frustrated and saying 'screw this'.''

He is honest that this, his first ever race in the Renault, is just the first step in a process that could take years.

''That's what I believe, that's why I signed here. This year its all about progressing and trying to get close to those top three teams (Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari).

''Next year we have got to be a regular podium car. Realistically, sitting here today we wouldn't expect a world title next year, but if we started getting podiums that would keep everyone excited enough to kick on and make it happen in 2021.

''I don't like talking that far ahead. I don't want to wait that long, but that's the realistic path.''

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