Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Is Daniel Ricciardo Australia’s Next F1 Prodigy?

Formula  One driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia raises his trophy as he celebrates his third placed finish in the F1 United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas November 2, 2014. (REUTERS/Adrees Latif)
Continuing on with the theme of intermittingly chronicling various year’s Formula 1 Rookies - every few season's... Having just gone Bloody racing Down Under Mates! Thus my newest inductee to this diverse grouping of Rookie Gran Primo Piloto's isn't a Rookie NO More... Having been given his Rookie Stripes 'Wayback in 2011 behind the wheel of the lowly Hispania; CRIKEYS MATES! Remember them?

As Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo handled himself brilliantly during last year's F1 Baptism under fire in the scorching hot confines of thee B-I-G' BULLS, nee Red Bull Racing as reigning Quadruple World Champion Zeb' Vettel's teammate by winning his first three Grand Prix's while the sport's forth winningest driver scored Goose-egg's before scampering off to Ferrari!

Daniel Ricciardo (Australia)
Birthplace: Perth; Wes Australia
DOB: July 1, 1989
Age: 25
Car No. 3
Team: Red Bull
Chassis: RB11
Engine: Renault
Debut GP: 2011 British Grand Prix 

I must confess that I'd never heard of thee young Daniel 'Ricky Ricciardo's name until first becoming aware of his presence at the Twenty-Oh-nine Formula 1 Young Drivers test program at Abu Dhabi, where the "Proper Young Lions" testing has occurred over the years. As young Daniel acquitted himself nicely aboard the RB5.

Then for 2010, Ricciardo ‘Blitzed the aspiring ‘Hot Schue’s whilst being afforded the chance of piloting the Championship winning Red Bull RB6; CRIKEYS! Can we already be on the RB10? OOPS! Now it's the RB11 as another year's slipped by; but I digress, since obviously I'm getting ahead of the  story, eh!

Typical of nearly all aspiring F1 racers, Daniel began Go Karting at the somewhat late age of nine before graduating to Single Seaters in his native 'Oz, making an most auspicious start with extremely dated equipment, i.e.; 15yr old Van Dieman for his first outing in Formula Ford, followed up with a leased 13yr old "Rattle-trap!"

Next, the young 'Aussie won a scholarship to compete in Formula BMW Asia, where he scored his first two wins.

Then Daniel moved to Formula Renault, where he focused upon the European and Italian championships and in 2008 won the Formula Renault WEC title along with finishing runner-up to some "Finn" with the initials VB (Valtteri Bottas) in the Formula Renault Europecup championship.

For '09 Ricciardo moved to Formula 3, driving for Carlin Motorsport, where he promptly obliterated the field en route to his second championship title by some 80+ points!

Afterwards, TEC-1 confirmed him for their 2010 Formula Renault 3.5 (World Series by Renault) assault, where the 'Aussie performed brilliantly. And at one point was an astounding six-for-twelve (50%) in Poles. Also entering the season's final race tied for the title with eventual champion Mikhail Aleshin, who overtook him in the season finale to beat him to the title by a scant two points!

Daniel Ricciardo, with the monetary backing of "Deeter Majestik's" (Dietrich Mateschitz) energy drinks (slush fund) made his proper Formula 1 race debut at the 2011 British Grand Prix for Hispania Racing, replacing thee “Speediest Indian,” aka Narain Karthikeyan; his moniker being bestowed by HRT F1 Team Boss Dr. Colin Kolles, upon being called-up from Formula Renault...

It was during the British GP (Me Thinks, since 'Twenty-eleven is a long time ago & I've forgotten this...) that the SPEED {StatRat” pointed out that there hadn’t been two ‘Aussies on an F1 Grid since 1977, when Alan Jones (Shadow) and Vern Schuppan (Surtees) contested the 1977 Dutch GP at Zolder.

Although I’m not sure if this is technically correct since I’ve seen the classification NQ (Did NOT Qualify) next to Schuppan’s name for this event. Nevertheless this is counted as Schuppan’s final Grand Prix race, so hence – we’ll just take solitude that two Aussies did indeed participate and That’s That, right?

Thus, we'd be privileged with having two men from 'Oz on the F1 grid the next  two-plus years with Mark 'Handlebarz Webber and Ricciardo; Webber in what 'Claudio denotes the "Big Bulls" and Ricciardo predominantly in the 'lil Bulls, aka Red Bull's 'lil 'Seester Scuderia Toro Rosso 2012-13. As appropriately, Ricciardo scored his maiden F1 points by overtaking his team-mate Vergne on the final lap in Albert Park for ninth place at the 2012 Australian GP.

Toro Rosso retained its 2012 driver pairing for '13 before Red Bull elevated Ricciardo to the retiring Webber's seat alongside four times reigning F1 world champion Seb' Vettel for 2014.

As we all know, the always grinning Australian thoroughly outshone Vettel, who's been called "the Smiling Assassin," being the only driver besides the Blitzkrieg "Silver Arrows" Boyz, i.e.; Nico Rosberg & Lewis Hamilton to score a win last year. With Ricciardo securing his first three Grand Prix 'W's, first at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Then in a  dazzling performance at the Hungaroring and finally at the mighty Spa-Francorchamps, where an Aussie hadn't sprayed champagne atop the rostrum since 'Ol Blackjack, nee Sir Jack Brabham in 1960!

And that's without even discussing the farcical home race where the FIA and Race Stewards let the overjoyed crowd go home thinking Ricciardo  had become the first Homeboy to stand atop the podium with an excellent runner-up finish that was overturned the following day due to the Red Bull's fuel flow violation.

Yet the young Daniel went onto finish a fantastic third in the 2014 F1 Driver's points standings - while Vettel scurried off to la Scuderia with his tail between his legs, albeit not to mention a very pleasing Pay-cheque in order to drive for the Prancing Horse in '15 alongside his good buddy Kimi, while Ricciardo will face the renewed assault of Russian Young Lion Daniil Kvyat, who was elevated from Toro Rosso after Vettel's announcement of leaving Milton Keynes   at the end of last year...