If anything was to give Daniel Ricciardo wings, it would be the Australian Grand Prix.
After reaching the heights of the podium for the first time in his Formula One career, in his first race for Red Bull, the youngster put on a brave face when he was sensationally stripped of his historic second place in front of his home crowd.
He’s kept a low profile since, doing only a single interview for his team’s website in the lead up to Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
But the week-and-a-half break – likely to have been spent in the simulator back in Milton Keynes – will no doubt have helped.
“Ready to go this weekend,” he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday, his first post in 10 days.
Red Bull, meanwhile, have made plenty of noise following their decision to contest the FIA’s ruling on an alleged fuel-flow breach.
Team boss Christian Horner insists they have not broken the rules.
“We’re extremely confident we haven’t exceeded the 100 kilograms of fuel per hour that is permitted to be utilised by the car and the engine,” he said.
“That was the reason for our appeal, we feel we’ve a strong case, and it will be down to the appeal court (on April 14) to ultimately decide.”
Even Dietrich Mateschitz, owner of the Austrian energy drink company, warned they may quit F1 if he’s unhappy with decisions made by the sport’s governing body.
But with all the hot air around him, Ricciardo’s focus is on redemption in Sepang.
His best finish at the steamy Kuala Lumpur circuit is 12th in 2012 with Toro Rosso. However, he knows he can do better – in a car he’s confident driving and seemingly more reliable than the one seen during pre-season testing.
“Albert Park’s made me hungry to get on the podium again – and I think we’ve got a really good chance of doing it,” said the West Australian, who’s already one up on his four-time world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel following his early retirement from the season-opener with engine issues.
Malaysia, of course, is no stranger to Red Bull, Australians and controversy.
This time last year, Vettel infamously ignored team orders and overtook the now-retired Mark Webber – leading at the time – to win the race.
Ricciardo’s been asked what he’d do if that situation arose again: he’d be stoked, of course, because it’d mean he’d be in front of the world’s best Vettel.
This weekend will not only prove a real test of Ricciardo’s character, but of Red Bull’s capability up against a resurgent Mercedes outfit that won in Melbourne through Nico Rosberg.
And with the year’s first polesitter missing his chance at glory Down Under because of a cylinder failure, Rosberg’s teammate Lewis Hamilton will also be champing at the bit to hit back with a maiden victory in Malaysia.
Opening practice begins at 1pm (AEDT) on Friday.