Daniel Ricciardo of Scuderia Torro Rosso is on pace to be a contender during his still developing Formula One career. The 24-year-old Australian has to compete with Lotus GP driver Kimi Raikkonen with regards to filling Mark Webber’s open seat at Red Bull Racing.
Raikkonen is clearly the better driver, but it is also not the right fit for Red Bull Racing’s star Sebastian Vettel. Red Bull Racing’s entire existence as a dominant F1 team has relied on finding complacent drivers to compliment Vettel, rather than driving the German to compete against a driver of his caliber in equal equipment.
Formula One is a very complicated political beast, for better or worse. This is evident in Red Bull Racing. Team boss Christian Horner is the best in the paddock at diverging controversy into nothing, while keeping a robotic team structure put in place to ensure Vettel’s dominance continues.
Rumors have been circulating that it was down to Raikkonen and Ricciardo, but Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso has allegedly joined the fray. Alonso is the best pure driver on the grid but joining Vettel at Red Bull would spell more disaster than it would if Raikkonen or especially Ricciardo joined the team.
Daniel Ricciardo is outperforming his equipment and his teammate Jean-Eric Vergne. His contract would save Red Bull a lot of money as well, and put Red Bull on course to prove that its development program actually works. Recall after 2011, both Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari were dispatched from the team despite outperforming their equipment arguably better than Ricciardo.
But, it is important to look at the stats when analyzing Daniel Riccardo. Since he had been notified he was in consideration for the open seat, he has not missed qualifying three, and scored a top 10 at Silverstone.
Silverstone marks one of two circuits where Ricciardo has run three times. The other is the Hungaroring where F1 is just returning from. At each of those tracks, Ricciardo has improved every time out. It’s also important to note Ricciardo was the second fastest driver at the young drivers test at Silverstone in the Scuderia Torro Rosso and fourth fastest in Red Bull Racing’s Renault. The only driver faster than him was Sebastian Vettel.
All in all, Daniel Ricciardo is the move Red Bull Racing must make, and soon. The risk is minimal, but the outcome over the course of the next five seasons could be massive if Ricciardo takes the next step. Anything else would be a mistake that Ricciardo could easily make the team regret.
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