14 rounds of racing, 2 race wins, and 6 DNFs later, where does Daniel Ricciardo stand?
For a driver who seemed to be right on top of his form, going as further as overcoming a mechanical malaise in his Red Bull at Monaco to bag a memorable win, it doesn’t help to know that where the past few Grands Prix stand, Daniel Ricciardo’s car seems to have given up on him.
But maybe not the man himself, who has braved some intense moments this year, continued to persevere as seen at the accident-marred Hungaroring where he secured a fighting fourth despite coming together with Mercedes’ Bottas in the fading moments of the race.
Ricciardo, one would hope, hasn’t given up now, and that he’d love to come back to some top-notch performances of the kinds he’s shown at China, Hungary, and Monaco, earlier this year.
And if there’s a track that holds some significance for Daniel Ricciardo then it’s the Marina Bay, the home of the Singapore Grand Prix.
Back in 2013, when Formula 1 was drastically different vis-a-vis the turbo-powered hybrid era that it has assumed today, Daniel Ricciardo was merely a 24-year-old. He was then driving in only his third season overall, having entered his first race at the 2011 British Grand Prix.
As a promising Toro Rosso driver, even then, despite being vastly inexperienced when compared to other marksmen on the grid, of the likes of Raikkonen, Hamilton, Webber, Rosberg, Alonso, it wasn’t any hard to spot the bursting passion in the bright Australian.
Driving in only his second year at the Toro Rosso, the machine running on the Ferrari-supplied V8 powered engine, Ricciardo entered round 13, the Singapore Grand Prix. This was the same topsy-turvy circuit powered by the electrifying night lights where he’s gone the fastest today, 5 years into the present.
But at that moment in the past, Ricciardo had a sense of the track and a feeler for the pace. Any doubts about his abilities to combat well at the sensational night track. During qualifying, Ricciardo stayed away from the tricky parts of the 61-lap contest, punctuated by 23 sharp turns.
Even then, it wasn’t that lop-sided or dull to note a Toro Rosso secure a fighting ninth in the form of Daniel Ricciardo taking his best-ever start at the famous night race. In so doing, he’d keep the likes of Gutierrez, Hulkenberg, Jean-Eric Vergne, and even Raikkonen behind.
At the same track last year, he’d gather a lowly fifteenth. This time around, he seemed a lot better. But soon, despite easily breaking into the top ten at the start of the race within the opening laps, Ricciardo wasn’t able to finish the contest and would retire due to a complex accident in a move that may not have been the cleanest where the Australian lost control and suffered oversteer in his Toro Rosso.
Perhaps a big reason why so many Australian eyes hooked on the Singapore Grand Prix of 2013 appeared swollen at the wake of their ‘honeybadger’s’ ouster from the race was that they were aware as to what Ricciardo was capable of in a Formula 1 car, considering his form the previous season.
Ricciardo, already in 2012, had secured a Top-10 finish on 6 different occasions. He may not have been a driver notching up flying lap times, but his promising finishes at Australia, Belgium, Singapore, Japan, Korea, and Abu Dhabi showed just what he was capable of.
But that said, in the years hence, his form at the Singapore Grand Prix has been anything but vague or lacklustre. And that truly indicates why he may be back to his best at a track suiting the strong corner-speed of the Red Bull RB-14.
Here’s Ricciardo’s form guide at the Singapore Grand Prix, starting 2014 onwards.
If a solitary line were to suffice the Australian’s commanding form at a spine-twisting track, then a lot can be drawn from the fact that not since 2013 has Ricciardo retired from the Singapore Grand Prix even once.
And what’s more? From the onset of the race in 2014 to the completion of the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix, Ricciardo has collected a podium every single time at the stellar event, closely followed by the elite in Asia.
So impressive has been the Red Bull driver’s outing at a track where his black and blue liveried car has been an absolute match to the imperiously quicker machines from the Scuderia and the Silver Arrows that Ricciardo has collected a hat-trick of P2 starting 2015-2017. In 2014, he first stepped on the Singapore podium, grabbing what was a vital P3, ahead of his teammate, Vettel.
In fact, he also has a history of beating Hamilton at this track, finishing second in 2016 ahead of the third-placed Lewis. That said, the word out there in the media about the Red Bulls ‘eyeing’ their opportunity at this track, isn’t after all, a shot in the dark.
In a sport where natural speed or race-pace matters as much as past history, Ricciardo’s got no significant reason to doubt himself under the evening blue skies of Singapore. All he needs is for the car to remain with him. Should that happen and given the form that blokes like Raikkonen, Hamilton, Vettel are enjoying at this time, we might be in for a feisty contest.