Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Adam Macdonald
Editors Note: Since this article has been written it has become clear that Ricciardo will be announced as Mark Webber’s replacement at Spa.
At just 24 years old, he is on the brink of the most sought after drives in recent Formula One history, a racing seat in the Infinity Red Bull Racing garage. The jump from midfield to frontrunner would be huge, as Franz Tost reminded his protégé to be “prepared for a rough ride,” earlier this month.
Ricciardo’s website homepage reads, ‘Only a select few Australians have raced in Formula 1. I’m proud to say I’m the first from Western Australia.’ The man from Perth is certainly proud to be where he is, but what do we actually know about him?
He cites playing guitar hero as a special talent and lives by the philosophy of ‘try not to have any regrets and don’t wait forever to make your move.’ Very philosophical and deeply thought out, so it is not surprising that he lists the most important people in his life to be his family. He is also a big fan of seafood.
Date of Birth: July 1, 1989
Resides: Milton Keynes, UK
Daniel’s Dad, Joe, was born in Sicily but moved to Australia at the age of 7. His Mum, Grace, also has an Italian background, but was born in Australia. As Joe says, putting it plainly, “He’s got the Aussie flag on his helmet.” He is an Australian through and through.
Having taken up Karting at the age of 9, he continued with this path until the age of 16 with victories in state and national championships. In 2006, he drove in Formula Ford and won the Formula BMW Asia Pacific Scholarship. He finished 3rd in the series with 2 race wins and 1 pole position.
2007 was to be a pivotal year for his career, as he moved to compete in the Italian Formula Renault 2.0 Championship. However, more importantly, he was selected for the Red Bull Junior Team for the following year, in 2008.
He was the Formula Renault 2.0 West European Championship series winner in 2008, and then followed that up with British Formula 3 Championship in 2009, with Carlin Motorsport. This earned him the opportunity to participate in an end-of-season F1 test for rookies at Jerez in Spain, for Red Bull Racing. He clocked the fastest time which earned him the role as test and reserve driver for Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso teams in 2010.
In 2010 he took the World Series by Renault 3.5 Championship series record, of 8 pole positions. 2011 was to be Ricciardo’s first taste of F1, as he drove for STR during free practice 1s. He was promoted to race driver with HRT, with sponsorship from RB, from the British GP onwards. And the rest, as they say, is history…
His electric pace is not the only thing that could shock Vettel if the two do become teammates in 2014. His maturity behind the wheel has been noted, but some see him as a driver who goes backwards during races.
With less than inspiring results, it leaves more to be desired on that side. Following the ousting of Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastian Buemi, with similar results in a competitive STR in years previously, some were even predicting a potential exit from F1 for the current duo of Ricciardo and Vergne, if this year did not see some improved finishes. One factor that is on the Aussie’s side is his wage demands, which will be much less than others who are competing for the same 2014 RB seat. However, the question remains, can you seriously be considered for a top seat if your best result in F1 so far is 7th?
Where else but Red Bull?
So were he not to make the move to Red Bull for 2014, this would leave the Aussie with different career options to pursue. An article in a recent edition of Italian magazine, Italiaracing, claims Raikkonen will ultimately line up at Red Bull next year, with Ricciardo replacing him at Lotus. They could be used as a stepping stone for his career, with a McLaren seat (Jenson Button), a Ferrari seat (Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa) and the would be Red Bull seat (Kimi Raikkonen) all becoming free in the forthcoming years.
Although this is possible, being turned down by a top team would be a body blow. Especially given he will have 2 and a half seasons worth of F1 races by the end of this year. Therefore, staying with STR is not a realistic option for his career progression. Furthermore, going to Lotus would be a move away from the RB young driver programme, which would force him to gain independent sponsorship.
All in all, this really is a make or break point for the young Australians career, and an opportunity which he surely cannot afford to miss out on, given the current competition for F1 seats.