Formula 1 – Daniel Ricciardo’s Sixth Win Proves He’s Red Bull’s Top Card

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 15: Race winner Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Red Bull Racing celebrates after the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 15, 2018 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Daniel Ricciardo‘s victory in China was validation once again that the Aussie driver has been the pre-eminent driver of the Red Bull Racing team in the hybrid-engine era. Given Max Verstappen‘s flaws in Shanghai, which cost the Dutchman a chance at winning, Ricciardo remains the face of the Austrian squad since 2014.

Hybrid-Engine Era Success

The Australian’s win in Shanghai was his sixth since he entered the pinnacle of motorsport in 2011 with HRT. As expected, all his wins have come with Red Bull, since he replaced his fellow Australian Mark Webber in 2014.

Ricciardo arrived in Milton Keynes as Formula 1 was getting ready for the new engine regulations: the 1.6L V6 hybrid-engine era.

Since his arrival in 2014, Christian Horner‘s team has won 9 races, with Ricciardo achieving six (66.67%) of those victories.

In addition to that number, the Austrian team has reached 44 podium spots, of which 28 (63.63%) are part of Ricciardo’s resume.

The Milton Keynes-based squad has only one pole since 2014 (Monaco 2016) and that is Ricciardo’s only top spot on Saturdays in his career.

Ricciardo has taken part in 82 races as a Red Bull driver and finished ahead of his teammate 46 times on Sundays. In Qualifying, he leads his teammates 48-34.

Beats Sebastian Vettel in 2014

The Australian’s teammates list at Red Bull started with Sebastian Vettel, the reigning world champion in 2014. The Australian defeated the German 11-8 in qualifying and 13-6 in the races that season.

Ricciardo won three races and Vettel could not reach the top podium spot the entire year. The Aussie was on the podium 8 times, whilst the four-time champion reached it on four occasions.

It is Daniil Kvyat in 2015

The 2015 F1 season wasn’t the greatest inside the Red Bull garage, but Ricciardo was able to maintain his form. Even though Daniil Kvyat managed to score more points than Ricciardo, the Australian achieved 3 of the team’s 5 podium finishes and edged his Russian colleague in qualification 13 to 6.

Kvyat and Verstappen in 2016

In 2016, the Aussie shared the garage with Daniil Kvyat for four races and beat him 3-1 in race position finishes, 4-0 in qualifying and 36 to 21 in points.

With Max Verstappen being promoted from Scuderia Toro Rosso for the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix and the Dutchman’s victory on his debut, many people thought Ricciardo was not going to be able to handle Verstappen.

However, the Australian driver kept his composure and defeated the young Verstappen in points, podiums, poles, race position finishes and qualifying.

“Max Attack” in 2017

When the 2017 F1 season got underway, the F1 world was ready to crown Verstappen as the team leader. Given Verstappen’s talent, Ricciardo needed to be consistent in 2017 and that was what he did.

It is true that the Dutch driver was troubled by many mechanical issues in the first part of the year (5 DNFs in 11 races) and Ricciardo took advantage of that. But the Aussie’s luck in the latter half of the season was not the best (6 retirements in the season and Verstappen had 7). Ricciardo dominated the younger Verstappen in points (200-168) and podiums (9-4).

Red Bull’s Top Card

In 2018, after participating in 82 races with Red Bull, Ricciardo won for the sixth time in his career and maintains his place as the team’s best driver since his arrival.

The Australian has scored 823 points (55.5% of the team’s total) for Red Bull in 82 events. His point-per-race average is 10.03. Which ranks third among the nine drivers who have at least 40 races with their current team. Behind Lewis Hamilton‘s 17.2 points per race average with Mercedes and Sebastian Vettel’s 13.6 with Scuderia Ferrari.

Quick note

Ricciardo has accomplished his six F1 wins without starting in Pole position in any of the races he won. Only two other drivers in history haven’t started on pole on their first six wins: Jackie Stewart and Denny Hulme.

Stewart did not start on Pole in his first eight wins, even though he had one Pole by the time he reached his eighth victory. Hulme had one Pole Position in his career and it didn’t deliver a victory for the New Zealand racing driver. Hulme won a total of eight races in F1 and his best starting position on those events was second.

Ricciardo accomplished something that Stewart and Hulme could not do. The Australian never started even in the top-3 in any of his six wins so far.

The Perth-born driver won in Canada 2014 and started sixth. That same year he won in Hungary and Belgium after starting fourth and fifth, respectively.

In Malaysia 2016 he won the GP after being fourth in qualifying. Whilst in Azerbaijan 2017 he started tenth and took the victory in spectacular fashion. In last Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix, the Australian started sixth and grabbed the win.

F1 2018 season will resume with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix between April 27th and 29th. Baku City Circuit in Baku, Azerbaijan, will be the stage of the fourth Grand Prix of the current F1 championship.

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