The Student Media Site of William Clarke College

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The Student Media Site of William Clarke College

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The Student Media Site of William Clarke College

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The Comeback kid – Daniel Ricciardo

How Daniel Ricciardo made his way back onto the Formula One grid 
Taken from Autosport

Daniel Ricciardo (otherwise known as the ‘Honey Badger’) is a homegrown legend in the eyes of Aussie F1 fans. Since his debut at the 2011 British Grand Prix, his smile and charismatic humour has captured the hearts of nearly every supporter. But the 2022 season was not his best. At the end of last year, McLaren decided to part ways with Ricciardo, leaving him stranded and without a seat. But the tables have turned. And turned in favour of our Honey Badger.  

During the 2022-23 winter break, Red Bull Racing announced their contract with Ricciardo as their third driver. He had returned to the team that gave him his career. This opened options for Ricciardo, because if you have a contract with Redbull, you have a contract for both them and their sister team, Alpha Tauri, allowing drivers to be swapped between teams. Prime examples of this being, Daniil Kvyat and Max Verstappen in 2016, and Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon in 2019.  

As Ricciardo began getting back to work at Redbull, the team principal Christian Horner made the remark that the Honey Badger wasn’t the same driver that left 4 years ago. But after the first week, Horner was proved wrong. Spotted in the paddock at many races so far this season, he continued with his smile and enthusiasm, and questions were starting to arise whether Redbull would give him a seat on the grid again. Looking strong during his simulator work, Redbull decided to give him a drive in the Pirelli Tyre Test in Silverstone. After just 24 laps, Ricciardo was already setting times that would have put him on the front row, nearly as quick as his former teammate Max Verstappen’s pole position time. 

With this information, Redbull considered changing their driver line-ups for the rest of the season. Max Verstappen was not even whispered amongst their lips, and although he has missed out on Q3 in the past couple of races, Sergio Perez was still sitting in 2nd in the Drivers’ Championship. So, they turned their heads to Alpha Tauri. 

Who would it be? Nyck De Vries or Yuki Tsunoda? But the choice was obvious.  

 At the moment Alpha Tauri is at the bottom of the Constructors Ladder with only two points. And those points were scored by Yuki Tsunoda, performing incredibly well so far this year in what ultimately is a tractor. So, De Vries it was.  

Why Nyck De Vries though? After filling the car of Alex Albon’s Williams last year at the Italian Grand Prix, he scored points on debut. An F2 and Formula E world Champion, there has always been a hype around him. So RedBull took a gamble on De Vries. And it hasn’t quite payed off.  

Putting it into the wall on lap one of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, and crashing into his teammate in the sprint, consequent of a double DNF for the team, he has not shone this season. Tsunoda has also outqualified and finished before him in every race so far this season.

With immediate effect, amidst the two-week break of the British and Hungarian races, Nyck De Vries was dropped and replaced with the Australian Honey Badger Daniel Ricciardo. Many have the question of why or even if they should’ve dropped De Vries, but these questions will always happen around the paddock and some even question if Ricciardo should have even gotten the seat. We never know. De Vries could have signed a contract stating he would be dropped if he didn’t score. Or Redbull could just be extremely cruel. Up to you to decide.

The world was shocked when Ricciardo was lapping within two tenths of Tsunoda’s times in FP1, 2 and 3. Remind you, in a car he hasn’t driven before. Ricciardo then outqualified Tsunoda going P13 in the slowest car on the grid whilst Tsunoda lined up P18. 

Race Day. Eyes turned to Ricciardo; this was his chance to showcase his skill. And he most certainly did. Starting P13, he got away well and was going into turn one, when Zhou was too late on the breaks, running into the back of Ricciardo. He fell to P18, but a glorious stint on the medium compound tires, he dragged his way back up to finish in 13th position. 

Franz Tost, Alpha Tauri team principal, told the media that “We are very happy that Daniel is back with us” and he was emotional when Ricciardo first came back to the factory. Although he stated it was “difficult and emotional” to have to call De Vries and explain to him that he had been replaced with Ricciardo.

There is no secret Ricciardo is pining for the 2024 Redbull seat. A seat many are saying is highly up for grabs due to the lowly form of Perez this season. Ricciardo’s saying “Obviously the dream is to be in a Redbull” implying he wants to be back with his former teammate Verstappen, Verstappen himself saying “I never actually wanted him to leave” when asked about Ricciardo’s return to the RedBull family.

Ricciardo’s return was a shock to many, and many questions have been raised. But if he wants to stay on the grid for 2024, he’ll need to show his skill to other teams or even his own team of RedBull if he is punting for Perez’s seat.


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