Daniel Ricciardo is one of Formula 1’s most universally liked drivers. Known as both a smiling assassin and a Honey Badger inside the car, the Australian took several race victories with Red Bull before recording two podium finishes with Renault. In 2021, he moved to McLaren.
|Full Name||Daniel Joseph Ricciardo|
|Date of Birth||1st July 1989|
|First Race||2011 British Grand Prix|
|First Win||2014 Canadian Grand Prix|
With both his mum and dad’s sides of the family having Italian heritage, Daniel Ricciardo was born in Perth, Western Australia in 1989. His father was a motorsport enthusiast, and some of Daniel’s motorsport earliest memories are of watching his father on track. He cites Ayrton Senna as one of his idols, and took up karting at the age of nine. After performing respectably in outdated karts at competitions, Ricciardo won a scholarship into the Formula BMW Asian series in 2006. He took two wins and finished third in the championship and, after a brief appearance in Formula BMW UK, moved to the European and Italian championships of Formula Renault. He failed to score a point in the European series, but finished seventh overall in the Italian series with one podium finish. He stayed in the series for a second year, but focussed on the European and Western European championships. He won the title in the latter with eight wins from fifteen races, and finished runner-up to Valtteri Bottas in the European championship.
Also during 2008, Ricciardo made his Formula Three début, where he qualified eighth and finished an impressive sixth. Having joined the Red Bull young driver program, he competed in British Formula 3 in 2009 and won the title with six race victories. He gained his first F1 experience at the end of 2009 testing for Red Bull Racing, where his raw speed shone through and he was signed as one of Red Bull and Toro Rosso’s test and reserve drivers for 2010, alongside Brendon Hartley. For 2010 Ricciardo entered the Formula Renault 3.5 Series and, despite an injury sustained over the winter, impressed from the outset, scoring four wins and eventually finishing runner-up to Mikhail Aleshin in the title hunt. He continued in the series in 2011, until he stepped up to F1.
Ricciardo made his F1 bow at the British Grand Prix in 2011 after Red Bull placed him at the Hispania Racing Team. The team were backmarkers, but it was a pressure free environment for Ricciardo to put in some mileage at the top tier of motorsport. He was signed to join the Toro Rosso team for the 2012 season and scored his first F1 points at the opening round of the year. He impressively qualified sixth in Bahrain, but the car was rarely good enough to convert qualifying speed into race pace. He scored ten points over the season and finished eighteenth in the championship. He remained at the team in 2013 and doubled his points tally, moving up to fourteenth overall.
With fellow Australian Mark Webber retiring at the end of 2013, Red Bull announced Ricciardo as his replacement. He impressed from his début with the team, where he finished in second place at his home event, before being disqualified for a technical infringement. Over the course of the season, he consistently out-performed his four-time World Champion team-mate Sebastian Vettel and took three wins, the first of which came at a chaotic Canadian race, before back-to-back victories followed in Hungary and Belgium. He finished the year third in the championship, the best of the rest behind the dominant Mercedes pairing. The car struggled more in 2015, with Ricciardo able to score just two podiums. In 2016, he scored his maiden pole at Monaco and kept his cool against new team-mate Max Verstappen. After two years of waiting, he finally took his fourth Grand Prix victory, in Malaysia.
Daniel Ricciardo’s 2017 got off to the worst possible start. His home Grand Prix in Australia saw him crash out in Q3 on the Saturday and then retire from the race with mechanical trouble on Sunday. Move forward a few rounds, and Ricciardo took a surprise victory at Baku in a chaotic Grand Prix, in which he impressively overtook three cars in one move at the end of the pit straight. He further proved his reputation as one of the best overtakers with his sublime pass on Kimi Raikkonen in Monza and with his his charge through the field from the back in Brazil. Despite a raft of technical issues, which saw him retire from three of the last four races of the year, the Australian scored nine podiums over the course of the season.
Ricciardo finished on the podium only twice in 2018, both times in races which he won. His first came in China, a win which was secured with a bold overtaking manoeuvre on Valtteri Bottas, while the second came at Monaco, where he finally found redemption for his lost win two years previously, despite his car suffering a loss of power throughout the race. They were the highlights in an otherwise disappointing season for the Australian, not through his own performance but rather through bad luck and a terrible rate of reliability. Aside from his dominance in Monaco, Ricciardo also took pole for the Mexican Grand Prix by just 0.026 seconds, on one of few occasions where he beat Verstappen in qualifying throughout the year. Even Mexico would end in heartbreak, as once again the Australian pulled to the side of the track with smoke pouring from his engine; an all too familiar sight in 2018.
Perhaps the bad luck was a factor in Ricciardo wanting a new challenge for 2019. At the start of the summer break the F1 world was shocked, as were the Red Bull team, when the Australian announced that he’d be joining Renault for the next season.
RICCIARDO IN 2019
On the face of it, Daniel Ricciardo finished ninth in the Drivers’ Championship with his worst result since his final year at Toro Rosso in 2013.Despite that, Ricciardo remains adamant that moving away from Red Bull to Renault was the best choice for his career.
Ricciardo had a frustrating start to the season. After driving over his front wing just metres into his Renault debut at his home race and subsequently retiring, he retired again in Bahrain with an electronics failure. He opened his points balance in China with a seventh place finish, but that would be one of only four times that he picked up points in the opening half of the season. He himself said that it took a while to adjust to life at Renault, but he seemed to have settled in by the end of the year.
Ricciardo scored Renault’s best result of the season – and the works team’s best result since 2010 – with fourth place at the Italian Grand Prix. He had a strong run of form at the end of the year too, scoring three sixth place results in four races – at least he would have done, had Renault not been disqualified from the Japanese Grand Prix.
Ahead of the season, Nico Hulkenberg had a reputation for out-qualifying team-mates, but of the 63 qualifying sectors in 2019, Ricciardo was faster in 45. This was perhaps just one of the factors that led to Hulkenberg losing his seat, and Ricciardo having a new challenge in the form of Esteban Ocon alongside him in 2020. Ricciardo will be hoping the team can make strides this season. Read more: Daniel Ricciardo’s 2019 F1 Season In Stats.
RICCIARDO IN 2020
Compared to 2019, 2020 was a much more consistent year for Daniel Ricciardo. While things didn’t get off to a great start, his retirement in the Austrian Grand Prix would be his only non-finish of the season and he’d go on to score points in all but two of the remaining sixteen races. The highlights were his two podium finishes – both third places at the Nurburgring and Imola – Renault’s first podiums in almost a decade. His strong year culminated in eleven successive top ten results, with only four of those being lower than sixth place finishes. The Styrian and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix were the only races at which Ricciardo was out-qualified by team-mate Esteban Ocon in 2020. On average, Ricciardo was fastest of the Renault pair by one tenth per sector. Read more: Daniel Ricciardo’s 2020 F1 Season In Stats.
Ricciardo announced his intention to leave Renault before the delayed 2020 season began. In 2021, he replaces Carlos Sainz at McLaren, partnering Lando Norris. Given his results in 2020, and McLaren’s upward trajectory, Ricciardo could well be one of the stars of the season.
DANIEL RICCIARDO’S F1 RECORD
|Year||Team||Final Position||Points Scored||Wins||Poles||Podiums|