The last time two Aussies were on the F1 grid

Daniel Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo

Last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix which reigning world champion Max Verstappen commanded a 33-second victory over Lando Norris, saw the return of Daniel Ricciardo to Formula One after his split with McLaren in 2022.

Returning to the team he last drove for in 2013, AlphaTauri née Toro Rosso, Ricciardo out-qualified teammate Yuki Tsunoda in thirteenth and raced to the same position – despite falling to the rear of the field following a first corner incident.

A solid return for Ricciardo in what is the slowest car on the grid, though the occasion at the Hungaroring can be celebrated more so for being the first time since Brazil 2013, that two Aussies have been on the Formula One grid together.

Almost a decade ago, it was a much younger Ricciardo in the second year of his Toro Rosso deal, soon-to-be driving for the world-beating Red Bull Racing the following season, as his compatriot and nine-time race winner Mark Webber farewelled Formula One.

The grand prix at Interlagos in 2013, was essentially a perfect summary of what the season panned out to be. Sebastian Vettel claimed a ninth successive victory from pole position, having long wrapped up his fourth consecutive world championship in India. Webber and his good friend Fernando Alonso featured on the podium but a respective 10 and 18.9-seconds off the lead – while the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg which qualified on the front-row, faded to fifth with tyre troubles.

It was remembered too for the fact that Webber was rendered winless for the first time since 2008. Oh, how fitting would it have been for the then 37-year old, to sign off on his Formula One career with a win. Though even with a record 155-point advantage in the standings to Alonso, the ruthless Vettel wasn’t going to show quarter nor sympathy to his once-upon-a-time fierce rival.

Instead, we have the famous images of Webber’s in-lap around the 4.3km Autódromo José Carlos Pace, of the Aussie waving to the crowd sans his crash helmet and the final roar of the normally aspirated V8 engines before the switch to the turbo-hybrid powertrains in 2014.  

Ricciardo on the day brought home a solitary point in the underwhelming STR8, a lap down on his soon-to-be teammate Vettel – but a clear distance from incumbent teammate Jean-Eric Vergne, who’d not scored points since Canada earlier in the season.

Fast forward to almost a decade later, the prospect of having two Aussies on the grid in 2023 was close to being realised, until both Ricciardo and junior formulae prodigy Oscar Piastri were intertwined in the silly season. The wily and mercurial Alonso left Alpine, with the French marque hastily announcing their reserve driver Piastri to a race set in 2023 – only for the Melbournian to rebuke this saying there was no contract.

Piastri and his manager, a certain ex-Aussie Red Bull driver had secured a deal for the F2 and F3 champion to drive for McLaren, which meant the underperforming Ricciardo would have his contract terminated early.

And despite not immediately wanting to secure an uncompetitive gig on the grid for 2023, eight months later the eight-time race winner returns. Ricciardo instead as the elder Australian, though in a similar predicament as 2013 with an eye on a second chance at Red Bull, while Piastri continues to wow with another top-five finish in a stronger McLaren.   

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