Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo

PROFILE

A product of Helmut Marko’s Red Bull young driver scheme, he had been destined to drive for Toro Rosso for some time and in 2012 got his chance alongside Jean-Eric Vergne.

Ricciardo’s career started in karts at the age of nine, driving in championships across his native Australia before making the step up to Formula Ford aged 15. He was cash-strapped during his early years and had to make do with a decade-and-a-half old Van Diemen in his debut season, which he drove to eighth overall.

In 2006 he graduated to Formula BMW where, with the help of a scholarship, he was given a gleaming new car and finished third in the Asian championship. He quickly progressed to Formula Renault 2.0 the following year and caught the eye of Red Bull, going on to win the Western European Cup in 2008.

He rewarded Red Bull’s faith with title successes in the competitive British Formula 3 championship in 2008, taking six wins and six pole positions from 20 races. By that time he had been earmarked for the top and became a regular face at the Red Bull headquarters in Milton Keynes as well as topping the 2009 young drivers’ test at Jerez in RB5.

Continuing to scale the rungs on the motorsport ladder, he looked set for success in Formula Renault 3.5 in 2010 but converted just half of his eight pole positions into wins. As a result he missed out on the title by just two points to Mikhail Aleshin after going into the final round all square. He recovered his pride at the 2010 young drivers’ test in Abu Dhabi where he set an all-new lap record at the wheel of Sebastian Vettel’s championship-winning RB6, eclipsing the pole time set the previous weekend.

He was due to have another shot at the Formula Renault 3.5 title in 2011, but Red Bull wanted him to gain Formula One experience. With both Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi performing well at Toro Rosso, Red Bull secured Ricciardo a race seat with HRT mid-way through the season and he made his debut at the British Grand Prix. His progress was tough to measure in an uncompetitive car, but he impressed enough to gain a race seat at Toro Rosso when the team decided to change both drivers at the end of 2011.

His first full season was strong if not spectacular and he showed impressive pace in qualifying compared to team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne. His low points tally was perhaps a reflection of the car rather than his talent, and he continued to do a good job in his second season which eventually led to him being announced as Mark Webber’s replacement at Red Bull in 2015.

Ricciardo hit the ground running at Red Bull, taking a fairytale podium on his debut in Australia – only to see it later stripped due to a fuel-flow irregularity. His form was a sign of things to come, however, as Ricciardo stunned observers in the first half of 2015 by not only consistently outqualifying and outperforming four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, but also by claiming his maiden victory in a thrilling Canadian Grand Prix after just seven races at his new team.

Strengths and Weaknesses
Impressive raw pace, Ricciardo tested a Red Bull at the Abu Dhabi Young Drivers Test in 2010 and was 1.3 seconds quicker than Sebastian Vettel’s pole time from the previous weekend. This trait has been clear in his debut season at Red Bull alongside Vettel.

Career High
Winning just his seventh race for Red Bull in Canada, his maiden career victory, and blowing Vettel out of the water in the first half of his debut season at the team.

Career Low
Losing out to Mikhail Aleshin in the final round of the Formula Renault 3.5 series in 2010, being passed by the Russian on track in the final race to miss out on the title by two points.

Quotes
“It’s a dream come true for me – for the first time on an F1 starting grid! I had to pinch myself a couple of times to be sure that it’s real.”

“My competitiveness is going to keep growing and I guess we’ll see more of it this year. But I’ll try to contain it so I don’t come across like a dickhead or something.”

Trivia
Ricciardo stars in an upcoming Red Bull television series called ‘Destination One’, which follows his career path in to Formula One.

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