Mar.13 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Daniel Ricciardo has admitted he will earn less than $500,000 in 2012.

And the Australian rookie also confirmed that, when he made his grand prix debut last year with HRT, his sponsor Red Bull paid him only for the race seat, not a salary.

“Yeah, it’s quite a strange journey to formula one because it’s so elite and when you get there it can turn around very quickly,” he told Australia’s Fox channel.

“(On) the road to getting there, you’re always climbing a ladder, but you don’t really see the rewards until you get well established,” the 22-year-old added.

Ricciardo told television host Eddie McGuire that Toro Rosso will pay him some money in 2012.

“A little bit,” he smiled. “Let’s say I can buy myself a pair of jeans now, but not a mansion.”

He confirmed he is earning “less than” half a million dollars.

Some of that has already been spent — on a set of dental braces.

“I figured, just to keep my feet on the ground, I won’t get too beautiful,” Ricciardo laughed to the Herald Sun. “So I’ve got a mouth full of beautiful metal instead.”