By Hong Lau
Here we go again!
I did not expect to sit down and type this article last week after finishing my Lando Norris piece. This weekend we do kick back into action with the Hungarian Grand Prix, and then we are off for a month for the Summer Break!
Danny Ricciardo has long been a “fan favourite” of many F1 fans worldwide. The veteran Australian Driver is one of the more experienced drivers and has the smile and personality to light up the whole grid. We last saw Danny on the grid in 2022 with McLaren. I can’t say it was a pleasant sight as he continued to look below his “reputation.” I will preface this conversation after Lando’s last couple of weeks; he’s reaffirmed that he is just a tier below Max when it comes to speed. I may be reaching, but he is FAST. Danny struggled over his two years at McLaren and “lost his love” for the sport.
Well, it has come full circle for him as he has secured a seat with the team he debuted with AlphaTauri (formerly Toro Rosso). As he re-signed with Red Bull after his stint with McLaren, I don’t think anyone thought we’d see him on the grid this early. It was more of a “commercial” contract. This meant Danny would do marketing, brand and other appearances (hence his personality). It’s interesting because it was thought around the grid that he wanted a seat with a Mid to high-tier team last year. Well, as we know, he did not get his wish to go to one of the worst teams in the league. He would have been better off at Williams last year, as their car is currently performing at a higher level.
Like most people in F1, I believe this is an “audition or bid” for the second seat at Red Bull for when Sergio Perez’s seat becomes available (or If they decide to swap them). It only makes sense; Red Bull is where Ricciardo felt at home and built his brand and name.
Marko Helmut remains one of the most “ruthless” individuals in F1. His track record continues to provide short leashes for his “junior” drivers. Whether that is Nyck de Vries, Alex Albon or Pierre Gasly, they’ve all had their seat yanked quite quickly.
In this case, I believe Nyck performed terribly throughout the year. It doesn’t help that the car has been abysmal and continues to go in the opposite direction from its solid performance in 2021. He continually has lost to Yuki Tsunoda in both race pace and qualifying. We’ve seen some good performances from Yuki this year, and I can’t say the same for Nyck. There were a whole lot of Q1 eliminations and poor race days. I think Nyck needed a year to get used to the seat and show what he could do. On the flip side, Nyck de Vries is not “young” like some may think, even though it’s his rookie season. He is a 28-year-old rookie with multiple world championships in Formula E.
I’m excited to see what Daniel Ricciardo can do and if he can find his grove and “love” again.