July 1, 1989
Infiniti Red Bull Racing
Great Britain 2011
|Career statistics to end 2013|
Dan the Man racked up a significant milestone in the last race of 2013: Brazil was his 50th Grand Prix start.
But there is a real sense in which Daniel Ricciardo’s career as a Grand Prix driver begins now, when two things happen: he gets his hands on the next car built by the World Champion team of the last four years, and he comes up against a bloke called Vettel on the other side of the garage.
“Next year I will be expected to deliver,” Ricciardo acknowledged when the news of his promotion broke.
But while Vettel rockets into 2014 on the back of nine straight wins, 13 wins in a season, four world titles and all the rest of it, Dan arrives from a 14th-place finish in the World Championship, and a season that saw him rack up two best finishes of seventh in China and Italy.
It was also a season whose last seven races yielded just two points, and an overall tally of 13 that stacks up fairly shakily against his new teammate’s 397…
But while Dan may have got the nod because of his long-standing Red Bull relationship, he is also in there because he is quick – nine appearances in Q1 in 2013 proved that fact once more – and he has a race-winning and title-winning record from his days in the junior formulae.
“It’s very much a medium to long term view that we’re taking in developing him,” says Red Bull Racing chief Christian Horner, who has described his new charge as “a star of the future”.
Let’s hope he’s right – and that the pressures of his new racing environment don’t stop Daniel flashing that famous smile.