Daniel Ricciardo has key winning attribute: composure

With Vettel off the pace, Red Bull's Australian driver has been a revelation - and there's no doubt he's made of the right stuff

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 June, 2014, 9:34pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 June, 2014, 9:34pm

Thank goodness for teammate rivalry. Another Mercedes 1-2 at Monaco would have been dull beyond belief but for the full-on tantrum that Lewis Hamilton had after Nico Rosberg's antics to secure pole position.

All eyes will be on them and the team as Formula One gets back on track again this weekend in Canada. But there is one driver who shone in Monaco and who has shone this season as a whole - Daniel Ricciardo has made the world sit up and take notice in his first season at Red Bull.

Team boss Christian Horner said in the build-up to Canada that he had no idea his new driver was going to be so quick. I bet Sebastian Vettel, his teammate and world champion for the past four years, is surprised. Out-qualified and out-raced 5-1 this season, he's two places and nine points behind the Australian. It would have been more but for Ricciardo's disqualification in the first race on home soil when he secured a podium.

On his website he said: "I am ready to reinforce my determination to succeed and become one of the elite drivers on the F1 circuit."

We might all fancy ourselves as racers, but just how clear would your mind be if you were sitting on the grid, waiting for the lights to go out?
Richard Drew

I think it's fair to say he may already be there. Of course, like most successful drivers, it's not been a case of overnight success; more like several years of outstanding success.

Born in Perth, Ricciardo proudly boasts he is the only F1 driver from Western Australia, and is one of a select few Aussies. In 1998, aged just nine, he embarked on karting racing, winning state and national championships.

By 2006 he was ready for single-seater racing. After a season in Asia, he headed over to Europe. By 2008 he was part of the Red Bull Junior Team, and in 2009 he won the British F3 championship with Carlin Motorsport. Red Bull liked what they saw and made him their test and reserve driver for 2010.

In 2011 he became a fully fledged Formula One driver, replacing Narain Karthikeyan at HRT (which, let's face it, wasn't much to live up to). In 2012 he was installed at Toro Rosso. Six top-10 finishes that season and a solid 2013 put him in the Red Bull hot seat. It is unfortunate that he has arrived at the team just as their Midas touch has deserted them. But he's been able to capitalise on the misfortunes of Vettel, who after four straight championships isn't used to things not falling into place. The first few races have really focused the minds of the racing fraternity and, it would seem, secured Ricciardo a long-term future at Red Bull.

He certainly has the right stuff, but what exactly is that? He's fast and fearless, but you can say that about the majority of drivers, otherwise they wouldn't be in the top echelon of the sport. In the end it comes down to composure. Just how calm would you be if the World Cup final in Brazil this month came down to a penalty shoot-out and you had to take one? Similarly, we might all fancy ourselves as racers, but just how clear would your mind be if you were sitting on the grid, waiting for the lights to go out?

If you can keep calm at 330km/h, after deftly dealing with your team, the media and your manager all week, you will have the edge. Ricciardo certainly has the speed, the hunger and crucially the composure to have the edge over all but the Mercedes team. Vettel will be a worried man.