Following his father but with more ambition
Daniel Joseph Ricciardo is an Australian Formula One driver. In 2020 he will face his tenth season in Formula 1 with the firm intention of fighting for the best possible result. Renault has confidence in Ricciardo’s talent to regain an important position in the championship.
Surely, even if there is a difficult situation due to this pandemic, Daniel will not disappoint his team before to move to McLaren. His single pole position and seven wins do not do him justice, but they have a lot of merit when you consider that he was one of the few drivers who stood out in the hybrid era against Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes AG team.
Where did he start ?
Daniel started racing at the age of nine in Australia, following in the footsteps of his father Joseph Ricciardo, who was not only a car collector but also a driver and owner of racing teams in local categories.
Little Daniel looked to his father as a role model and also to the pilots Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Valentino Rossi. Initially his family did not support him, his father considered that the way to become a professional driver would be very complicated because he had to emigrate from Australia, hence this is the reason of his late start in karting.
However, in his first performances at the Tiger Kart Club in his native Perth, he managed to stand out from older, more experienced children, a fact that caught the attention of John Nastas, a talent scout, who proposed to help him in his career.
After seven years in go-karting, his next step was to move into Formula Ford. With a Van Diemen chassis more than a decade old, Ricciardo was not able to achieve good results, but his determination, patience and serenity were his greatest virtues.
For 2006, he received the opportunity to compete in the Formula BMW Asia, there he achieved two victories and good results. At the end of the season, he was third. This allowed him to earn an invitation to race in the Formula BMW World Final, where he finished in fifth place.
The following year, he competed in the Italian Formula Renault championship, where he reached the sixth place, and also participated in four races of the European championship, but he could not stand out in that category.
For 2008, he decided to focus on the Eurocup and the Formula Renault 2 West European Cup. It was a great year for the Australian as he was runner in one and champion in the other, showing a great level in both competitions. He also made his debut in Formula 3, on the Nürburgring, and also participated in the Formula 3 Master’s race in Zolder.
Red Bull and their sponsorship
With such a display of skills he was promoted to the British Formula 3 Championship, where the Carlin Motorsport team offered him the opportunity to continue demonstrating his progress and he did so in the best possible way.
On twenty dates he won seven times, collected six poles, recorded five fastest laps and was on the podium thirteen times. With such a performance he had no problem in winning the title and also receiving an invitation to participate in the Red Bull Racing tests at the Jerez circuit.
The Australian dazzled those present by registering the best absolute time, thus earning the right to belong to the structure’s young driver program.
For the year 2010, the next step he faced was the World Series by Renault and as a Red Bull driver one of his roles was also to serve as third driver for Toro Rosso, running in some free sessions in which he registered very good times.
This season was positive for him because he got a position in the World Series by Renault with the Tech 1 Racing team. It was the Australian’s first full season in the category. Again, he was invited to the young driver’s test, this time in Abu Dhabi, and again he showed that his speed was to be in Formula 1.
By then, it began to be speculated that at any moment he could take the place of Sébastien Buemi or Jaime Alguersuari in Toro Rosso.
Formula 1 Debut with Hispania Racing Team
The year 2011, it was another productive year for Ricciardo. He started in the World Series, this time with ISR Racing, but as he continued to shine in the first free sessions of the Formula 1 Grand Prix, Red Bull placed him in the place of Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan in the Hispania Racing Team, the most deficient of the grid.
He made his debut at the British Grand Prix and from there began to accumulate miles and compete directly against his teammate, the veteran Vitantonio Liuzzi. He did what was asked of him and beyond, since in addition to not making mistakes he always showed a positive attitude despite having almost assured one of the last two places in each race.
The smiling face in the adversity was beginning to be a common factor when observing Ricciardo, perhaps because he had already experienced what it was like to run with second-rate material and not lose faith.
That is how it happened in his early days in Formula Ford and he never gave up until he got to Formula One. At the end of 2011, Red Bull surprisingly announced that none of the official Toro Rosso drivers would be with the team in 2012, despite having current contracts. One of those free seats was given to Daniel Ricciardo.
Toro Rosso as a way to Red Bull Racing
The Australian landed in the Faenza team and there he teamed up with French rookie Jean-Eric Vergne. Ricciardo managed to stand out on the first date of the championship, in Melbourne, by moving up to Q3 and finishing ninth in the race.
That is how he scored his first points in Formula 1 and did so at the wheel of the STR 07, a car that was not very competitive, but in every way much better than the HRT. After his outstanding debut in the championship, Ricciardo failed to score points in the next ten rounds, although he did manage to start sixth in Bahrain. It was in Belgium that he regained the points by finishing in ninth place. From then on, it would add up to four of the eight remaining dates. He certainly accumulated fewer points than Vergne, the Frenchman scored 16 and Ricciardo 10, but the Australian started 16 times in a better position.
That interesting internal rivalry, speed versus efficiency, was released in 2013 and it was already predicted that Mark Webber’s replacement on the Red Bull Racing team would come from there.
Ricciardo would continue to climb the ranks and in 2013, he would continue to demonstrate his skills as a great qualifier, as well as his maturity and ability to deal with technical staff. These characteristics, and his constant optimism that won him more fans, led him to project himself above Vergne, especially in the second half of the championship. Seventh in China and Monza, and five other performances that translated into points: Spain, Great Britain, Belgium, India and Brazil, placed him in fourteenth place in the table.
Both in points achieved and in qualification, Ricciardo beat Vergne, and it even became routine to watch the Australian participate in Q3, so in this evaluation there was no doubt about the winner.
For the month of September, Red Bull Racing announced that Daniel Ricciardo would be the replacement for Mark Webber on the world championship team.
Red Bull Racing Team Era
Ricciardo’s arrival at Red Bull Racing coincided with the introduction of hybrid turbo engines, a development that greatly affected the performance of the cars created at Milton Keynes.
In the first pre-season tests, the forecasts were reserved due to the doubtful reliability of the engine. However, Ricciardo managed to qualify second in Melbourne, a position he held until the end of the race. It would be the first podium in Formula 1 for the Australian, but hours later he was disqualified for exceeding the fuel flow…
A retreat in Malaysia, fourth in Bahrain and China, and a pair of third-placed teams, one in Spain and one in Monaco, were the prelude to their victory in Canada.
The Australian climbed to the top of the podium in his 57th appearance and became the only alternative to the Mercedes team’s dominance that season.
In the remaining twelve races he managed to score points in eleven, including his victories in Hungary and Belgium. He scored 238 points, a result that earned him third place in the championship, behind Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
The Australian stopped being a promise and became a fact, proving right the Red Bull Young Riders program!
Beyond his strong displays of talent, his personality won him the sympathy of both the paddock and the audience.
Sebastian Vettel’s departure for Ferrari gave Ricciardo the position of Red Bull’s top driver for 2015. However, what in theory was to be a greater projection of Ricciardo in Formula 1 turned out to be a disappointing season.
The RB11 was not competitive on any circuit and its favouritism to cheer the championship was diluted with the passing of the calendar. In Australia, it was clear that they were far from the tip and the enemy was not only Mercedes but also Ferrari and Williams. It was until the Hungarian Grand Prix that he managed to get on the podium, in third place, and then he was second in Singapore.
Beyond those results his performance was not outstanding. Eighth in the championship with just 92 points was the balance of his second year with Red Bull Racing. But even with so many setbacks, he was not seen to be bitter or to criticize his team for such poor material.
On the contrary, he continued to show his optimism and good humour above all.
RB12 and his first Pole Position at MonteCarlo
The 2016 season got off to a better start for Daniel Ricciardo and RB12. Even though, it got three fourth places, the car’s performance was far superior to previous ones.
The Russian Grand Prix proved to be a turning point for the team as an action prompted by Daniil Kvyat caused Ricciardo to abandon the race. For this reason, from the Spanish Grand Prix onwards, the Australian will have Max Verstappen as his new team-mate.
The development of the RB12 was correct and Ricciardo could register the pole position in Monaco, until now the only one he has in Formula 1, but the victory was for Lewis Hamilton, a situation that bothered the Australian, who for the first time in front of the media showed signs of dissatisfaction.
The evolution of the car reached a point where it could rival the Ferrari, but it was very difficult to approach the Mercedes. Ricciardo was back on the podium seven times, second in Germany, Belgium and Singapore; third in Hungary, the United States and Mexico.
In Malaysia, he won the race, and the sum of all his scoring performances earned him third place in the championship.
Once again, optimism returned to the Australian’s box, as he showed solid psychological strength to overcome last year’s disappointment
Another Victory in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix
In 2017, Red Bull lost ground again to Ferrari and reliability problems were repeated for the team, Ricciardo quit five times due to mechanical failure and could barely achieve a victory, in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, by taking advantage of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel’s stumbles.
He was second in Singapore and third in Spain, Monaco, Canada, Austria, Belgium, Malaysia and Japan. Consolidated as one of the fastest and most efficient drivers on the grid, Ricciardo finished the season in fifth place, behind both Mercedes and Ferrari drivers.
During the summer break of Formula 1 in 2018, Daniel Ricciardo announced his departure from Red Bull Racing at the end of that year, deciding to sign with Renault Sport F1 Team for 2019 in what would be his fourth team in the category.
Last season with Red Bull Racing Team
He would end the year in sixth position and far away from the fight for third position that Bottas, Verstappen and Räikkönen held.
Despite his two brilliant victories in China and Monaco, Daniel finished the year psychologically exhausted, with eight retirements on many occasions due to the unreliability of his car. He proved once again on the track that he is still one of the best “overtakers”, in the current Formula 1.
Difficult start at Renault in 2019
The first of his two-year contract with Renault was not all that positive the Australian driver expected. Two retirements in the first two races welcomed Ricciardo to the signature of the rhombus, having to wait until the third race, the Chinese Grand Prix, to score his first points with seventh place.
The best result of the year would come after the summer break, with a fourth in Italy that improved on Canada’s sixth place, giving Daniel reason to smile after months of hard work in which he pulled the team together with his positivism and served as a direct contrast to the personality of Nico Hülkenberg.
Renault’s double disqualification in Japan left him without another sixth place, although he would manage to make up for it only a few weeks later when he achieved the same position in both the United States and Brazil.
In total, it was 54 points to be the ninth classified at the end of the season, being fundamental in the double duel that he maintained in the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi with Carlos Sainz Jr. and Nico Hülkenberg himself.
Coronavirus and move to McLaren
This 2020, started with the Melbourne chaos and the race canceled due to the corona-virus pandemic.
A long stop forced by the lockdown, made a season impossible to forecast. Daniel and other pilots decided to change team and sign for other team. Our Australian will leave Renault at the end of this season, while Vettel will leave Ferrari for Carlos Sainz Jr.
After a couple of months without a real idea of the destiny of this season, Liberty Media decided to concentrate the championship on just 8 races. Daniel will drive for the last time with Renault, hoping to improve the result of the last year before to move to his new F1 team.