Daniel Ricciardo is proving his Championship credentials
Daniel Ricciardo is by far the best of the rest
He’s earned a drive with a top team
Focused on a world title
This season has seen Daniel Ricciardo return to his best form. After frustrations for the Australian last season, 2017 started slowly with a couple of early retirements. However, in true Ricciardo style, he has his head down to produce a run of excellent performances.
He has exceeded expectations consistently and managed to finish ahead of at least one Ferrari or Mercedes more often than not. Those results have all come down to his speed in the car though, he has beaten those cars outright with no aid from failures or incidents.
Red Bull have faced renewed reliability problems courtesy of Renault. But, Ricciardo has fared far better than his team-mate this season. He has made the most of that good fortune by squeezing every fragment of performance from his car.
The team is a distant third in the pecking order in 2017, Mercedes and Ferrari have maintained a half-second-a-lap advantage over the course of the season. Despite that, Ricciardo has scored six podiums including a terrifically opportunistic victory in Azerbaijan.
Daniel Ricciardo should be a future champion
That characteristic identifies the champions in Formula 1. That capacity find the front of the pack when you have no real right to be there. Beside Ricciardo, Verstappen and Lance Stroll are the only other drivers outside the top two teams to score a podium. They both have one each.
Such consistency has put Ricciardo fourth in the championship. He has jumped ahead of Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas is well within reach. It’s an incredibly impressive performance when you consider the relative pace of his car.
Ricciardo has directed strong criticism at Red Bull over the last year or so. He has made his championship aspirations clear, and it’s even clearer that he will not wait much longer for a winning car. He wants a world title, it is his sole focus.
So strong is his desire to win a first world title, it seems almost impossible that he will sign a new contract with Red Bull next year. Raikkonen is coming to the end of his career at Ferrari, and Ricciardo has no doubt spotted an opportunity there. It seems likely he will chase a drive with the resurgent Italians.
His performances this season have confirmed his position as one the top three drivers on the grid. Daniel Ricciardo has earned that drive. Aside from that, he has already beaten Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull. Ferrari will be aware of that, they would surely leap at the chance to get him in the car.