Daniel Ricciardo, Renault F1 celebrates on the podium with a shoey
2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Sunday – Daniel Ricciardo, Renault F1 celebrates on the podium with a shoey (image courtesy Renault F1 Team)

Daniel Ricciardo, born on 1 July 1989, is an Italian-Australian racing driver currently competing in Formula One under the Australian Flag. Ricciardo is contracted to drive for McLaren in 2021. He made his debut with the HRT Team in the 2011 British Grand Prix.

Ricciardo was born in Perth to parents of Italian origin. While his father, Guiseppe “Joe” Ricciardo, was born in Italy, his mother, Grace, was Australian-born to parents from Italy. Joe Ricciardo used to race at the Barbagallo Raceway on the outskirts of Perth. Ricciardo grew up as a fan of Dale Earnhardt, the NASCAR Series driver, and adopted 3 as his racing number in Earnhart’s honour.

Ricciardo drove a Ferrari-powered car for Toro Rosso in 2012 and 2013. He was promoted to replace the retired Mark Webber at Red Bull in 2014. Here he would partner with the four-time world champion, Sebastian Vettel. Driving a Renault-powered car, Ricciardo finished third in the championship rankings in his first season with Red Bull. Ricciardo won his first three Grands Prix wins during the 2012 season.

Two years of drought between wins followed before Ricciardo won the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix. He finished third a second time in three years in the championship that season, confirming his place at the 2016 Mexican Grand Prix. Ricciardo has thereafter won in Azerbaijan in 2017, and China and Monaco in 2018.

Ricciardo signed with Renault for the 2019 season and drove for them through the 2020 season. He has committed to race for McLaren for the 2021 season, partnering Lando Norris.

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Daniel Ricciardo’s Career Before Formula 1

Formula Ford and Formula BMW (2005-2006)

Ricciardo started karting as a member of the Tiger Kart Club in Perth at the age of nine. Driving a 15-year-old Van Diemen, Ricciardo competed in the Western Australian Formula Ford Championship in 2005, his first foray into car driving. He finished the championship season in eighth place. Later in the season, he went to compete in the national Formula Ford series in Melbourne.

The 13-year-old Van Diemen that Ricciardo had leased proved uncompetitive in the national competition. He finished poorly in the in two races and retired in the other three. He won a scholarship with Eurasia Motorsport to race in the 2006 Formula BMW Asia Championship. Ricciardo finished third in the championship, winning two races in Bira and a pole position in Zhuhai.

Motaworld Racing invited Ricciardo to race in the Formula UK championship that year. Ricciardo retired in the first race but took three championship points in the second, finishing 8th in his only entry. He also competed with Fortec Motorsport in the Formula BMW World Final. He finished in the fifth position, trailing the winner by only 14 seconds.

Formula Renault (2007-2008)

Ricciardo joined RP Motorsport when he switched to Formula Renault in 2007, competing in the European and Italian series. He entered in 14 races in the Italian series and finished scoring one podium in Valencia and finished the series in the 7th place. He failed to score any points in the four races he competed in the European championship.

Continuing to race in the Formula Renault class in 2008, Ricciardo competed in the European and Western European championships. That season Ricciardo won his first Formula Renault Western European Championship. He finished second behind Valtteri Bottas in the European series.

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Formula Three (2008-2009)

Midseason in 2008, Ricciardo competed in the Formula 3 Euro Series with the SG Formula team. Making his debut at Nürburgring, he qualified eighth and finished the race in sixth place. During the reverse grid race, his limited experience in the car showed and he finished the race in the fifteenth spot.

For the 2009 season, Ricciardo moved in with Carlin Motorsport to compete in the British Formula 3 Championship. Meanwhile, he also competed in the World Series by Renault in Portugal where Ricciardo retired in the first race and finished 15th in the second. In Formula 3, he took a lead of 45 points before the next weekend in Portugal.

Ricciardo scored a win and third-place finish in Portugal, enough to win the championship. He became the first Australian race driver to win the British Formula 3 Championship after David Brabham in 1989. Winning both pole positions at Brands Hatch, Ricciardo won the first race and finished fourth in the second race.

Formula Renault 3.5 Series (2010)

Ricciardo had driven for Tech 1 in Portugal in 2009. In 2010, Tech 1 signed Ricciardo to represent them during the season with Brendon Hartley. Ricciardo proceeded to take both pole positions in the season opener in Spain.  He finished the races in third and second to take a lead in the championship. He finished 13th and 2nd after many front-runners were awarded penalties in the latter race.

In Monte Carlo, Ricciardo took his third pole position. He scored a win in the next race and went on to claim two more wins at Hungaroring and Hockenheim. At Silverstone, Ricciardo was involved in an incident that sent him on a barrel roll forcing him to retire. In the second race, he finished second when he was overtaken in the last lap due to braking problems. 

Ricciardo was trailing the championship leader, Mikhail Aleshin, by 13 points going into the last round in Barcelona. Ricciardo won the first race from the 8th pole position. Starting from 2nd pole position, Ricciardo managed to hold on to his position until the last lap. Aleshin overtook Ricciardo who was struggling for pace, to win the championship by just two points.

Daniel Ricciardo’s Career In Formula 1

Daniel Ricciardo had made his Formula One track debut test-driving for Red Bull Racing over three days in December 2009. He then served as a test and reserve driver for Red Bull and Scuderia Toro Rosso. In November 2010, Ricciardo served as the lone test driver for Red Bull at the end of the-of-season young drivers’ test in Abu Dhabi.

Ricciardo was confirmed as Toro Rosso’s reserve and test driver for the 2011 season. Ricciardo continued to demonstrate his one-lap capabilities in the first few races of the season. At the end of June 2011, Red Bull announced that Ricciardo was contracted to HRT for the rest of the season.

Hispania Racing Team-HRT (2011)

Ricciardo replaced Narayan Karthikeyan at HRT except for the Indian Grand Prix, where Karthikeyan would race in front of his home fans. Ricciardo’s Grand Prix debut was at Silverstone. Just before the Indian Grand Prix, Vitantonio Luizi made way for Kartikeyan which allowed Ricciardo to race in India also.

Toro Rosso (2012-2013)

At the end of December 2011, it was confirmed that Ricciardo would partner Jean-Éric Vergne at Scuderia Toro Rosso for the 2012 season. Ricciardo took his first two World Championship points in the first Grand Prix of the season In Australia. He did so by overtaking Vergne on the last lap to cross the finish line in ninth place.

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He finished 12th on a wet Malaysian track and 15th in Bahrain despite qualifying sixth. In Monaco, he started 15th on the grid but suffered his only retirement of the season. Daniel Ricciardo finished the 2012 Formula One racing season in 18th place with 10 points. In October that year, Toro Rosso had extended Ricciardo’s contract for the 2013 season.

In the 2013 season, Ricciardo had scored 7 more points than his partner, Vergne, and had led over him in pole position in more than half the races. Ricciardo finished 13th in the season and his efforts saw him promoted to the parent Red Bull team for the 2014 season.

Red Bull (2014-2018)

At Infiniti Red Bull, Daniel Ricciardo had replaced fellow Australian, Mark Webber, who had retired from Formula One racing at the end of the 2013 season. He would partner with the multi- World Championship winner, Sebastian Vettel.

Daniel Ricciardo started his home Grand Prix in Australia from second place on the grid and finished second. He was later disqualified because his car had exceeded the mandated hourly fuel flow limit. Red Bull’s appeal against the decision was rejected. Ricciardo would have been the first Australian to finish on the podium since the race became a part of the World Championship.

Having failed to finish the race in Malaysia, Ricciardo made sure that he got points in Bahrain by finishing 4th after starting 13th on the grid. He became the fourth Australian to win the Canadian Grand Prix after Jack Brabham, Alan Jones and Mark Webber. He ended a run of six straight Mercedes victories in Canada.

Ricciardo won the Hungarian Grand Prix on blistered tyres by overtaking Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso in the last four laps and Vettel finished 7th. Becoming the second Australian to win in Hungary after Mark Webber, Ricciardo also became the second Australian to win in Belgium after Jack Brabham in 1960.

Ricciardo had led his more experienced teammate Vettel, for more than half the 2014 season. He finished the championship season in third place confirming his position in Brazil, despite retiring from the race. Ricciardo was awarded the Laureus World Sports Award for Breakthrough of the Year. It was earlier announced that he will partner Daniil Kvyat for the 2015 season.

The 2015 season didn’t go down well for both Red Bull and Ricciardo. Mercedes had out-developed the Renault power unit. The Red Bull car responded well on twisty and slow circuits that needed high down force, demonstrating a sturdy chassis construction. Red Bull lost out to both Ferrari and Williams in their bid to outdo Mercedes.

Ricciardo recorded the fastest lap in Monaco and got his first of five top-five finishes by finishing fifth in the race. He had a collision with Nico Rosberg in Hungary while duelling for second place and finished third. Having earned his first podium finish after the US in 2014, Ricciardo finished 2nd in Singapore. He finished the season in the 8th place with 92 points.

Ricciardo started the 2016 season in a much more powerful Red Bull car. He finished fourth in Australia and Bahrain. In China, he suffered a blown tyre when leading the race and finished fourth again. In Spain, opting for a three-stop strategy and a tyre blow out again ensured that Ricciardo finished fourth with his new teammate, Max Verstappen winning.

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In Monaco, after taking pole position and leading the race, the Red Bull team took nearly 40 seconds for a change of tyres during the pit stop. Ricciardo finished second in the race. After the race, Ricciardo let his team know exactly how he felt. Ricciardo was back on the podium in Hungary and Germany where he finished third and second respectively.

In Belgium, Ricciardo finished second and repeated the feat in Singapore after pushing the eventual winner, Rosberg, hard towards the finish. He qualified fourth in Malaysia and moved into second place in the first turn after a collision among the leaders. Hamilton’s engine failure gave him the lead in the race. Ricciardo took his first Grand Prix win of the season in that race.

Ricciardo sealed third place of the season with a podium finish in Mexico. Besides Sergio Perez, he is the only driver to have scored points in all the races in the season. He improved his performance over the 2015 season in every race save two. In those two, he equalled the previous year’s result.

Ricciardo started the 2017 season on a disastrous note. Crashing into the barriers during qualification, an unscheduled gearbox change and a sudden fuel pressure problem ended his race in Australia. At the inaugural Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Ricciardo won his fifth Grand Prix after he qualified 10th.

Five podium finishes in a row between Spain and Austria and three in a row between Singapore and Japan landed Ricciardo in the fourth place in the championship rankings. But three retirements in the last four races meant that Ricciardo finished the 2017 championship season in fifth place.

Ricciardo finished fourth in the 2018 Australian Grand Prix. He retired in Bahrain with an electrical problem but won the Chinese Grand Prix. In Azerbaijan, a contact with Verstappen caused both teammates to retire. In the Spanish Grand Prix, he set the track record and finished fifth. Red Bull was favoured to win the Monaco race, which Ricciardo did.

Ricciardo retired eight times during the season, most of the retirements coming in the latter half. He finished sixth in the 2018 World Drivers’ Championship.

Renault (2019-2020)

Renault let it be known that they have signed a contract with Ricciardo for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Ricciardo’s partner at the Renault F1 Team would be Nico Hülkenberg.

Ricciardo suffered wing damage in Australia and a power failure in Bahrain in a poor start to the 2019 season. He finished 7th in China but reversed into Kvyat’s car in Azerbaijan, resulting in retirement for both the drivers. Then came a straight run of six race finishes including a 6th-place finish in Canada. In Germany, Ricciardo suffered exhaust failure. 

A fourth-place finish in Italy was followed by a collision and retirement in Russia. A 6th place achieved in Japan was disqualified for using illegal driver aids. Three successive point finishes including 6th places in USA and Japan, saw Ricciardo finish the 2019 season in the 9th place in the championship.

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In 2020, Esteban Ocon replaced Nico Hülkenberg as Ricciardo’s partner at Renault. At the Eifel Grand Prix, Ricciardo secured Renault’s first podium position since the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix and his own since joining Renault. He scored another podium position at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and finished in fifth place in the 2020 Formula 1 Driver Standings.

McLaren (2021-)

Daniel Ricciardo has signed with McLaren to drive for them for the 2021 season. He will be replacing Carlos Sainz Jr., who has landed a multi-year deal with Ferrari. Ricciardo’s partner at McLaren will be Lando Norris.

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