Infotainment Factory: How did it go so wrong for Ricciardo?

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Wednesday, 31 October 2018

How did it go so wrong for Ricciardo?


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When Daniel Ricciardo truly burst onto the F1 scene during a stunning 2014 season, outperforming teammate and reigning four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, it seemed he’d landed in the right place at the right time.

It was his first season at Red Bull, having earned elevation from Toro Rosso. It was the first season of the new hybrid engines, and Red Bull remained competitive enough to power Ricciardo to three grand prix wins among eight podiums. Vettel was growing disgruntled and preparing to leave for Ferrari, handing Ricciardo No.1 driver status for 2015.

The world appeared to be at the Aussie’s feet. He was acclaimed as genuine driving talent, not just a guy in a top car, and branded a world championship contender of the future.

But 2014 simply marked the beginning of a Mercedes dynasty. Lewis Hamilton took the championship that year, as he did in 2015, when Ricciardo failed to win a race and finished the championship with just 92 points.

Mercedes had nailed the new engine formula. Their rivals had not. Between Nico Rosberg and Hamilton, the Silver Arrows have won five consecutive championships in the new era. Hamilton sealed this season’s title as Ricciardo sadly declared he did not even want to front up for the final two races of the year –his last with Red Bull.

Having signed a two-year deal with Renault (reportedly for $70 million), Ricciardo has for now sacrificed not only his dream of winning a world championship, but the hope of winning grands prix. This is, of course, the engine manufacturer with whom Red Bull had such a bitter falling out before linking with Honda; the 50 wins they shared together in the Vettel-Webber-Ricciardo era a distant memory.

After his race retirement at the weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix, his eighth DNF this year and an especially ugly result after taking pole position in style, Red Bull principal Christian Horner was asked if he believed that Ricciardo was regretting his decision.

“Only Daniel can answer,” he told Motorsport.com.

“There's no point broaching that with him - the decision was made, he was comfortable with the decision.

“He's driving a competitive car that's taken pole position this weekend and you can see the differential between where this part [the front] of the grid is and where this part [Renault] is two laps behind.”

Former F1 driver and Sky Sports commentator wrote after the race that Ricciardo was on a horrible downward spiral after a luckless season.

“Everybody has a bad spell in sport from time to time but his run, driving for one of the best teams in F1 history, is scarcely believable,” Brundle wrote.

“When he brilliantly won in Monaco it was still with an ailing car. His howling delight at pole position on Saturday turned into total despair and wishing away the rest of his season as overheating generated a hydraulic failure.

“He’s losing his mojo and needs a strong result to end the season with. Assuming he turns up.”

https://twitter.com/F1/status/1056285110574579712

Ricciardo is 29 and boasts seven grand prix wins, having added two this season despite ongoing turmoil. He could retire today and reflect proudly on his career.

Yet having always insisted that his aim was to become world champion, his career has taken a dramatic swerve.

The grinning Aussie was heavily linked with a move to Ferrari for next season, which would have put him back alongside Vettel in the only car with a hope of challenging Mercedes. That opportunity went begging – and it is clear he felt his time at Red Bull was up.

The most jarring thing about this season has been the increasing bitterness between Ricciardo, always known as one of the grid’s nice guys, and ambitious young teammate Max Verstappen. While it is no blood feud, Vettel vs Webber style, it carries the same hallmarks.

In Ricciardo’s discontent, there has been the undertones of favouritism towards Verstappen within the Red Bull garage. The Australian certainly feels that his car is “cursed”, however that may be. Ricciardo’s eight DNF’s are the highest on the grid this season, against only three for Verstappen.

"Things are happening on Sunday which I've got no more explanation for," Ricciardo said.

"I don't think 'frustration' is the word anymore," the Australian told reporters. "Everything feels hopeless.”

https://twitter.com/redbullracing/status/1056648327276703744

Like Webber before him, Ricciardo finds himself in the perfect F1 storm in being paired with Verstappen. The Dutchman is eight years younger, is fast catching up to Ricciardo’s 29 career podium finishes (he has 20), and is seen as a future world champion – a tag that appears to have passed the Australian by.

And in the big-money world of motorsport, in which Europe remains the beating heart, the Aussie simply can’t compete with the corporate and fan allure of an exciting young star from the continent. Webber knows exactly how that feels.

There is certainly time for Ricciardo to earn another F1 drive that would put him back in contention for the chequered flag. Ferrari has youngster Charles Leclerc signed only until the end of next season, while Valtteri Bottas is at Mercedes in 2019 with a team option for the following season.

But the world moves quickly in F1. The wonderfully-talented dual world champion Fernando Alonso had no chance to win a grand prix for the last five years of his career, languishing down the grid as yesterday’s man despite his skills remaining immense.

Whether that is the fate that awaits Ricciardo remains to be seen. Right now, his famous optimism appears at an all-time low, and so is that of his avid fan base.

It may be some time until we see a shoey on an F1 podium again.

When Daniel Ricciardo truly burst onto the F1 scene during a stunning 2014 season, outperforming teammate and reigning four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, it seemed he’d landed in the right place at the right time.

It was his first season at Red Bull, having earned elevation from Toro Rosso. It was the first season of the new hybrid engines, and Red Bull remained competitive enough to power Ricciardo to three grand prix wins among eight podiums. Vettel was growing disgruntled and preparing to leave for Ferrari, handing Ricciardo No.1 driver status for 2015.

The world appeared to be at the Aussie’s feet. He was acclaimed as genuine driving talent, not just a guy in a top car, and branded a world championship contender of the future.

But 2014 simply marked the beginning of a Mercedes dynasty. Lewis Hamilton took the championship that year, as he did in 2015, when Ricciardo failed to win a race and finished the championship with just 92 points.

Mercedes had nailed the new engine formula. Their rivals had not. Between Nico Rosberg and Hamilton, the Silver Arrows have won five consecutive championships in the new era. Hamilton sealed this season’s title as Ricciardo sadly declared he did not even want to front up for the final two races of the year –his last with Red Bull.

Having signed a two-year deal with Renault (reportedly for $70 million), Ricciardo has for now sacrificed not only his dream of winning a world championship, but the hope of winning grands prix. This is, of course, the engine manufacturer with whom Red Bull had such a bitter falling out before linking with Honda; the 50 wins they shared together in the Vettel-Webber-Ricciardo era a distant memory.

After his race retirement at the weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix, his eighth DNF this year and an especially ugly result after taking pole position in style, Red Bull principal Christian Horner was asked if he believed that Ricciardo was regretting his decision.

“Only Daniel can answer,” he told Motorsport.com.

“There's no point broaching that with him - the decision was made, he was comfortable with the decision.

“He's driving a competitive car that's taken pole position this weekend and you can see the differential between where this part [the front] of the grid is and where this part [Renault] is two laps behind.”

Former F1 driver and Sky Sports commentator wrote after the race that Ricciardo was on a horrible downward spiral after a luckless season.

“Everybody has a bad spell in sport from time to time but his run, driving for one of the best teams in F1 history, is scarcely believable,” Brundle wrote.

“When he brilliantly won in Monaco it was still with an ailing car. His howling delight at pole position on Saturday turned into total despair and wishing away the rest of his season as overheating generated a hydraulic failure.

“He’s losing his mojo and needs a strong result to end the season with. Assuming he turns up.”

https://twitter.com/F1/status/1056285110574579712

Ricciardo is 29 and boasts seven grand prix wins, having added two this season despite ongoing turmoil. He could retire today and reflect proudly on his career.

Yet having always insisted that his aim was to become world champion, his career has taken a dramatic swerve.

The grinning Aussie was heavily linked with a move to Ferrari for next season, which would have put him back alongside Vettel in the only car with a hope of challenging Mercedes. That opportunity went begging – and it is clear he felt his time at Red Bull was up.

The most jarring thing about this season has been the increasing bitterness between Ricciardo, always known as one of the grid’s nice guys, and ambitious young teammate Max Verstappen. While it is no blood feud, Vettel vs Webber style, it carries the same hallmarks.

In Ricciardo’s discontent, there has been the undertones of favouritism towards Verstappen within the Red Bull garage. The Australian certainly feels that his car is “cursed”, however that may be. Ricciardo’s eight DNF’s are the highest on the grid this season, against only three for Verstappen.

"Things are happening on Sunday which I've got no more explanation for," Ricciardo said.

"I don't think 'frustration' is the word anymore," the Australian told reporters. "Everything feels hopeless.”

https://twitter.com/redbullracing/status/1056648327276703744

Like Webber before him, Ricciardo finds himself in the perfect F1 storm in being paired with Verstappen. The Dutchman is eight years younger, is fast catching up to Ricciardo’s 29 career podium finishes (he has 20), and is seen as a future world champion – a tag that appears to have passed the Australian by.

And in the big-money world of motorsport, in which Europe remains the beating heart, the Aussie simply can’t compete with the corporate and fan allure of an exciting young star from the continent. Webber knows exactly how that feels.

There is certainly time for Ricciardo to earn another F1 drive that would put him back in contention for the chequered flag. Ferrari has youngster Charles Leclerc signed only until the end of next season, while Valtteri Bottas is at Mercedes in 2019 with a team option for the following season.

But the world moves quickly in F1. The wonderfully-talented dual world champion Fernando Alonso had no chance to win a grand prix for the last five years of his career, languishing down the grid as yesterday’s man despite his skills remaining immense.

Whether that is the fate that awaits Ricciardo remains to be seen. Right now, his famous optimism appears at an all-time low, and so is that of his avid fan base.

It may be some time until we see a shoey on an F1 podium again.

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