Daniel Ricciardo’s fall from grace in Formula One has not been spectacular but rather turgid and torturous. In his junior career the Aussie won two straight titles and the year before he joined F1 came second in what at the time was a major F1 single seater feeder series, Renault 3.5 series.
The happy go lucky Australian joined F1 in 2011 with back of the grid Hispania Racing replacing Narain Karthikeyan for the remaining 11 races of the season.
Daniel had joined the Red Bull young driver’s programme the previous year and at end of season young drivers’ test at the Gas Marina circuit. He dominated the event and set a lap 1.3 seconds quicker than World Champion Sebastian Vettel’s at the previous week end F1 season finale.
The rise of Ricciardo
In 2012 Ricciardo was appointed alongside Jean-Eric Vergne to race for the Red Bull junior F1 team Torro Rosso. He acquitted him well despite his team mate finishing 1 place ahead of him in the drivers’ championship
The following season Riccardo scored 20 points to Vergne’s 13 and was promoted to the big Bull team for 2014.
This was the beginning of the new F1 V6 Hybrid power unit era and Red Bull were not competitive with the dominant Mercedes, partly due to inferior engines.
Yet in his 5 years with the team Ricciardo delivered P3, P8, P3, P5 and P6 in the drivers’ championship.
Such was the prowess of the Australian in his first season alongside quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel he outscored him 238-167. Vettel left Red Bull the following year having been called up by Ferrari. Certain commentators at the time attributed his drubbing by new kid on the block Ricciardo forSebastian’s decision to leave his title winning home team.
Yet Ricciardo was to suffer a similar fate.
Verstappen ousts the Aussie
In his 3rd year with the Milton Keynes based team mid season Max Verstappen was promoted alongside him from Torro Rosso.
Ricciardo outscored his exciting young team mate in their first full year together 200-168pts but in 2018 Verstappen wrestled the upper hand.
Significantly there was an event between the two team mates in Baku which many believe was the reason Ricciardo chose to leave the team the following year.
Both drivers came together on the front straight in a huge accident which eliminated them both. During post race interviews Christian Horner appeared to criticise Ricciardo and take the side of Max.
Daniel left for Renault in 2019 and had two competitive years with team mate Carlos Sainz before deciding to leave for McLaren F1.
McLaren car designed for Norris
Except for a surprise win in Monza, Ricciardo’s time at the team has been torturous. Established team mate Lando Norris consistently out qualify and out races the Aussie. The result? Ricciardo has been released a year early by the Woking based team.
Much has been made that the McLaren car has been designed and developed to suit Lando Norris racing style – as a reason for Ricciardo’s mighty fall from grace.
Yet the young British driver has now come out speaking to Beyond the Grid podcast to refute this idea completely.
“[It’s] Not that I hate driving the car I am driving now, but it’s very unsuited to my driving style,” says Lando
“I would say at the beginning of the year it suited Daniel a lot more than it suited me in terms of how you had to drive it.
“That’s something I really struggled with at the beginning of the season and I’m coping with or have adapted to it a lot more now.
“But it is far from a car that I would want in an ideal world. If I wanted to go and do the best lap possible and you give me that car to go and do so, it is definitely not the car that I have now.
“We do drive in different ways, and therefore what we request from the car is quite different. But by no means is it anywhere near more adapted to me than to him.
“It’s not like, ‘Lando said this and we’re just going to do that, and Daniel, we’re not going to do that’. That’s just stupid to ever think.
Lando does back Ricciardo as an F1 driver and believes he deserves to be on the grid in 2023.
“I think he’s proven in his career how quick he is, what he achieved when joining Red Bull, the wins he did — he never won a boring race, he always won exciting ones, did it in style.
“He proved it many times — in Monaco when he had to deliver in qualifying and stuff like that he could do exactly that.
“I don’t need to say it. I think everyone knows how good he is and what he can achieve.”
Why Ricciardo should not take a year out
Daniel Ricciardo “has not suddenly become a bad driver”, says Sky’s Martin Brundle. Yet F1 is about fine margins and whether another team is prepared to ‘take a risk’ on the Aussie is yet to be seen.
Ricciardo is widely reported as to be considering taking a year out of F1 given more seats become available for the 2024 season.
However whether this is a wise decision or not, TJ13 takes a look at how F1 drivers have fared over the years after a break from the sport.
Oh dear…: https://t.co/IwSTK1fDdu
— Adam Cooper (@adamcooperF1) September 24, 2022