© Getty Images

F1 2016 Driver Review: Daniel Ricciardo

1 Comment

Daniel Ricciardo

Team: Red Bull Racing
Car No.: 3
Races: 21
Wins: 1
Podiums (excluding wins): 7
Pole Positions: 1
Fastest Laps: 4
Points: 256
Laps Led: 74
Championship Position: 3rd

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Daniel Ricciardo recovered from a testing 2015 season in convincing fashion. Expectations may have been low for Red Bull heading into 2016, but Ricciardo exceeded any pre-season hopes the team had with his strongest season yet in Formula 1.

Sure, he only won a single grand prix – and a lucky win at that – but Ricciardo pushed the Mercedes drivers harder than anyone else in the field. He should have won in Spain had Red Bull not misjudged his strategy, and would have won in Monaco had it not been for a mighty mistake in the pits, so getting that breakthrough victory in Malaysia was really Ricciardo’s just desserts.

Through it all, Ricciardo acted with his regular grace and charm. The smile was only wiped off his face in Monaco, otherwise remaining on his face all season long. Lewis Hamilton may be the most well-known F1 driver at the moment, but Ricciardo is the character that can take over as the sport’s next superstar in the future. He gave us his (fairly good!) Texas accent in Austin. He gave his face make-up in Mexico. And, most memorably, he gave us – and those who ended up with him on the podium – the ‘shoey’.

Underneath it all though, Ricciardo remains a fierce competitor and immensely talented racer. Watch out for the Honey Badger in the 2017 title race.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

F1’s version of Buddy the Elf – “Smiling’s my favorite!” – the happy-go-lucky Australian only rarely lost that effervescent glow all season, and he probably could have lost it more considering how hard done he was on strategy at multiple races this season. If you’ve made Daniel Ricciardo mad and lose his smile, you know you’ve screwed up.

Ricciardo basically got screwed three races in a row, with strategy pitfalls at Spain, Monaco and Canada costing for sure one and possibly two wins, and later ones also occurred throughout the year. It was hard not to feel this Australian was getting the Mark Webber treatment at times, even though Ricciardo was still the team’s number one driver in terms of points and qualifying record (11-6 over team newcomer Max Verstappen).

The Monaco loss was a crushing one and was perhaps balanced out by his lucky return to the top in Malaysia, but it was a win still properly deserved. Ricciardo’s attitude, humor, upbeat and pace package is hard to top within all of racing – not just F1 – and should be celebrated. Provided he has a car with which to do so next year, it’d be great to see him properly contend for a World Championship.

Street race in Vietnam could lead Formula One’s Asia expansion

Formula One logo
Leave a comment

TOKYO (AP) — Formula One is expected to add more races in Asia, including a street circuit in the capital of Vietnam, a country with little auto racing history that is on the verge of getting a marquee event.

“We think Hanoi could come on in the next couple of years, and we’re working with the Hanoi government to that end,” Sean Bratches, Formula One’s managing director of commercial operations, told the Associated Press.

There is even speculation it could be on the schedule next season, which Bratches rebuffed.

Vietnam would join countries like Azerbaijan, Russia and Bahrain, which have Grand Prix races, little history in the sport, and authoritarian governments with deep pockets that serve F1 as it tries to expand into new markets.

“This (Hanoi) is a street race where we can go downtown, where we can activate a large fan base,” Bratches said. “And you have extraordinary iconography from a television standpoint.”

A second race in China is also likely and would join Shanghai on the F1 calendar. Bratches said deciding where to stage the GP will “be left to local Chinese partners” – Beijing is a strong candidate.

Bratches runs the commercial side of Formula One, which was acquired last year by U.S.-based Liberty Media from long-time operator Bernie Ecclestone.

Formula One’s long-term goal is to have 24-25 races – up from the present 21 – and arrange them in three geographical segments: Asia, Europe and the Americas. Bratches said the Europe-based races would stay in middle of the calendar, with Asia or the Americas opening or ending the season.

He said their positioning had not been decided, and getting this done will be slowed by current contracts that mandate specific places on the calendar for several races. This means eventually that all the races in Asia would be run together, as would races in Europe and the Americas.

The F1 schedule is now an inefficient jumble, allowing Bratches to take a good-natured poke at how the sport was run under Ecclestone.

“We’ve acquired an undermanaged asset that’s 67-years-old, but effectively a start-up,” Bratches said.

Early-season races in Australia and China this year were conducted either side of a trip to Bahrain in the Middle East. Late in the season Formula One returns to Asia with races in Japan and Singapore.

The Canadian GP this season is run in the middle of the European swing, separated by four months from the other races in the Americas – the United States, Mexico and Brazil. These three are followed by the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi, which means another trip across the globe.

“With the right economics, with the right structure and cadence of events across territories, 24 or 25 is probably where we’d like to be from a longer-term standpoint,” Bratches said.

Big changes are not likely to happen until the 2020 season ends. This is when many current rules and contracts expire as F1’s new owners try to redistribute some income to allow smaller teams to compete.

“There’s more interest than we have capacity in the schedule,” Bratches said, firing off Berlin, Paris or London as potentially attractive venues. “We want to be very selective.”

“Those cites from an economic impact standpoint would find us value, as do others around the world,” Bratches added. “It’s very important for us as we move forward to go to locations that are a credit to the Formula One brand.”

An expanded schedule would have to be approved by the teams, which will be stretched by the travel and the wear-and-tear on their crews. The burden will fall on the smaller teams, which have significantly smaller revenue compared with Ferrari, Mercedes or Red Bull.

Bratches also envisions another race in the U.S., joining the United States Grand Prix held annually in Austin, Texas. A street race in Miami is a strong candidate, as are possible venues like Las Vegas or New York.

“We see the United States and China as countries that could support two races,” he said.

Liberty Media has reported Formula One’s total annual revenue at $1.8 billion, generated by fees paid by promoters, broadcast rights, advertising and sponsorship. Race promotion fees also tend to be higher in Asia, which makes the area attractive – along with a largely untapped fan base.

In a four-year cycle, F1 generates more revenue than FIFA or the International Olympic Committee, which rely almost entirely on one-time showcase events.

Reports suggest Vietnamese promoters may pay between $50-60 million annually as a race fee, with those fees paid by the government. Bratches said 19 of 21 Formula One races are supported by government payments.

“The race promotion fee being derived from the government … is a model that has worked historically,” Bratches said.