Apparently, Daniel Ricciardo is a good driver?
Well, colour me surprised.
Apparently, get this, a 7-time F1 Grand Prix winner is a good racer.
For some, this is a revelation that they have come to following the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix at the Nürburgring.
It took his maiden podium with Renault for people to finally remember that he is a top 3-5 driver in F1 and hence the world.
How did we get to this point though? How is it possible to forget this?
Well in reality, it’s a variety of factors that have caused this slander.
The biggest of these is the fact that Renault has severely underperformed ever since he signed the dotted line in 2018.
The French team filled his head with grandeurs of race wins and world titles as increased investment in the program was surely meant to equal better results.
Unfortunately, he was sorely mistaken and in 2019 the team didn’t just stall, they fell backwards. In 2018, they were a solid P4 in the constructor’s championship, well ahead of its rivals, but in 2019 they finished 5th, behind McLaren and dangerously close to Toro Rosso and Racing Point.
Despite the teams decline, the greatest comparison for a driver is a teammate and in his first year with the team he outperformed Nico Hulkenberg in every fashion. In qualifying Ricciardo won 14-7 and in the races they both completed he again won, 10-5 (In races they both finished).
So he didn’t perform worse than his teammate and in many ways comprehensively better, so much so that Nico didn’t have a seat in 2020, so where did this disrespect come from?
I think it probably is because of the fact that he came from a top team but then moved to one that has less quantifiable success and less opportunity to demonstrate it, i.e. no race wins.
Even this year, we are over halfway through this weird COVID affected season and Dan has absolutely obliterated teammate Esteban Ocon.
Riccy Bobby has 78 points compared to Ocons 38 and has beaten him in qualifying every time except once in the rain effected Styrian GP.
He also just secured Renaults first podium in 9 years whilst Ocon has at times struggled to make his way into points scoring positions.
The whole 2nd driver debacle at Red Bull just exemplifies further how incredible Ricciardo is too.
Since leaving Red Bull in 2018 the drivers not named Max Verstappen have achieved 1 podium, the only coming with Alex Albon in Tuscany. This is the exact same amount of podiums as Ricciardo, not to mention those achieved by Daniel Kyvat and Pierre Gasly at Alpha Tauri. No one saw this coming. Not just the lack of podiums for Red Bull but the sheer gap between Gasly and Albon have had to Max.
One man who didn’t have a problem like this was...
He beat him in both 2016 and 2017 and if not for his horrific luck with DNF’s in 2018 could have quite possibly have beaten him.
It has made everyone look back at Red Bull losing Ricciardo quite differently, as during this time Max has cemented himself as the 2nd best driver in the sport. So if Daniel was often matching and/or beating Verstappen then that leads us to believe that he is truly elite.
In fact, I’d go as far to say that he is the 3rd or 4th best driver currently in Formula 1.
The list for me is as follows:
There is probably a debate between Charles and Daniel, but I think at the moment Dan has proven to be much more consistent over a larger period of time and has won races from both on the back and front foot.
Am I biased in this because I’m Australian?
Am I biased because he is my favourite driver?
But I think that the even the most pessimistic conclusion you can come too with his ranking within F1 is 5th.
Yet as I have mentioned, people somehow have decided that he is average at best?
As the great man Gunter Steiner would say “Foking Ridiculous”.
He is single handily dragging himself and his car into 3rd in both the Drivers and Constructors championship this year.
Hopefully next year at McLaren he can demonstrate this again as he looks for a World Title push in 2022.
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