This could be the first time that Daniel Ricciardo has a genuine chance to challenge Mercedes. Since he graduated to Red Bull in 2014, the gap to the Constructors Champions has been too great. Even though he disposed of Sebastian Vettel in extraordinary style, he has yet to really achieve what his talent deserves.
I now consider Ricciardo as one of the top three drivers in Formula One. Although the disparity between teams makes that a difficult one to judge, Ricciardo has quickly build a reputation as a hugely impressive driver. With equipment to match his talent, I see Ricciardo as a serious title contender.
The development of a future Champion
Going back to his breakthrough season in 2014, three wins for Daniel very quickly cemented his place in the World’s elite. To leave team mate Sebastian Vettel in the shadows was truly exceptional. His unrelenting speed and determination have made him a real contender for every Grand Prix. He possesses that innate instinct that only the very best racers have to push beyond the limit of the car.
His rivalry with Verstappen seems set to hit new heights in 2017. With the possibility of both drivers mounting a credible title, there could be shades of Hamilton and Rosberg.
In my opinion, Ricciardo is the more rounded competitor. I personally think he is a better racer. Some of the overtakes he has pulled off over the last few years have been just as impressive as Verstappen’s exploits. Added to that his fierce determination to win. I can’t remember seeing anyone quite so anguished as when Ricciardo stood on the podium in Monaco. His desire to win is compelling.
Above all, there is no questioning Ricciardo’s overall speed. He is blisteringly quick in qualifying and only lost places during the race on a handful of occasions last season. You cannot deny that Daniel possesses all of the requirements needed to achieve the ultimate goal.
Ricciardo has got what it takes
Looking ahead to 2017, Red Bull must be confident that they can produce a car capable of winning races. Adrian Newey will no doubt utilise his renowned knowledge in aerodynamics to build a class leading car.
If Ricciardo is indeed provided with such a car, I can see him becoming a real contender for the Championship. He now has plenty of experience which will go a long way towards maintaining his focus through an entire season. The man knows how to win. Actually getting across the line can be another matter of course, but I believe the Australian as got what it takes.
It is all going to come down the performance fand the cars. Should Mercedes manage to maintain their advantage, Ricciardo will be set for another tough season. Picking up the pieces will not satisfy such a hungry competitor. If Red Bull are able to produce a competitive package however, I would place Ricciardo as a solid bet to be right in there with a chance when the chequered flag drops in Abu Dhabi.
Should the latter become reality, we can be sure to expect some extremely exciting racing over the coming months. The sport needs competition, and drivers like Daniel Ricciardo can provide exactly that. I am feeling optimistic about the upcoming season.
((3) Morio CC BY-SA 4.0)
((3) Morio CC BY-SA 4.0)
((2) Morio CC BY-SA 4.0)