Daniel Ricciardo is the second generation for the Red Bull family, and could be their next World Champion if the car is right. Of course, that might depend on his highly rated teammate Max Verstappen, and like others has made his way through the sport the hard way.
As an Australian in motorsport, it was effectivly a move to Europe which kickstarted the career for Daniel Ricciardo. Although he took part in the Western Australia Formula Ford Championship (talk about regional), it was taking part in first the Formula BMW Asia series, and then a move to Formula Renault in Italy which was his first big move.
It wasn’t until 2008 though until he won his first championship, the Formula Renault series, as well as finishing second in the Eurocup. The success continued to the British Formula 3 championship a year later, with outing also at Macau and the Formula Renault 3.5.
Finishing second in 2010 he also go his first test drivers seat at Toro Rosso, although he would only finish second in his first season. Continuing as a test deliver in 2011, he didn’t complete the Formula Renault season as he picked up a seat at HRT, bought by his Red Bull backing amid their funding battle. From Silverstone he would see out the season before making a new home at Toro Rosso.
He would drive alongside Jean-Eric Vergne in 2012 achieving a couple of notable results, scoring points on his debut with the team for ninth in his homeland of Australia, as well as the same position in Belgium and a string of other points at the end of the season.
The same line up would remain for the 2013 season, where similar results would come for the Australian. He would record a career best of seventh in China, which was also repeated in Italy, which some help from the Ferrari engine at the time. Despite only narrowly outpointing Vergne that season, his qualifying performance was far superior, and with countryman Mark Webber retiring at the end of that season was promoted to the full Red Bull team.
2014 wasn’t an easy entry to Red Bull. Renault hadn’t really delivered with the new hybrid turbo engine, and the season started with a DSQ and a retirement in Malaysia. Despite being saddled with the engine, it was an impressive season, with his first win coming in Canada, before back to back wins in Hungary and Belgium as the Mercedes pair faltered. He was a regular podium contender and showed four time World Champion Sebastian Vettel a thing or two, which prompted his move to Ferrari.
It was a harder season in 2015 as the Renault engine fell further behind, prompting speculation that Red Bull could move suppliers. Although he was a regular points collector, there were just a couple of good result, a third in Hungary and a second place in Singapore, both tracks which suited the car.
Although now badged TAG Heuer, the Renault engine in the back of the Red Bull had improved a little for the 2016 season. Four top four places in the first five races was an improvement, with Monaco a race he really should have won, if the team had not of made a mistake in the rain. Further second places were up for grabs with others including Ferrari failing – Germany, Belgium and Singapore, before getting his cherished win in Malaysia.
With investment now coming from Renault and the commitment to making the best engine in the sport, Red Bull are now in a good position to make a step forward, and already signed up to take the ride, Daniel Ricciardo could be a future World Champion.