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F1 2016 Driver Review: Daniel Ricciardo

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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.

Kubica, di Resta complete Williams F1 tests in Hungary

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Robert Kubica and Paul di Resta have both completed one-day tests for Williams in a 2014-spec Formula 1 car as part of the team’s evaluation for its 2018 line-up.

Williams is known to be considering a number of drivers to partner Lance Stroll at the team next year, including existing racer Felipe Massa.

Massa is thought to be going up against Kubica and di Resta for the 2018 drive, with the latter duo taking part in a private test at the Hungaroring in Budapest this week to aid the team’s evaluation.

After missing out on a 2018 Renault drive due to lingering questions about his physical condition six years after his rally accident, Kubica tested for Williams at Silverstone last week before getting back behind the wheel of the 2014 FW36 car in Hungary on Tuesday.

Kubica’s test was called “productive” by Williams, with the Pole handing duties over to Mercedes DTM racer di Resta on Wednesday.

Di Resta raced in F1 with Force India between 2010 and 2013 before returning to DTM, but made a surprise return at this year’s Hungarian Grand Prix with Williams when Massa was taken ill. Di Resta impressed on short notice, putting himself in contention for a full-time return to F1 in 2018.

Williams has one of the few remaining seats on offer in F1 for 2018, with Massa’s future known to be in question after a quiet campaign thus far.

The Brazilian had been due to retire from F1 at the end of last year, only for Williams to recall him after Valtteri Bottas’ late move up to Mercedes following Nico Rosberg’s surprise retirement.

Massa has made clear he would like to keep racing in F1 next year, but only if the deal is right and if Williams is determined to keep him.

While Massa, Kubica and di Resta appear to be the three leading contenders for the seat, Williams technical chief Paddy Lowe made clear in Japan there was a “large range” of drivers under consideration.

“You’ve probably seen a number of names that are floating around that we’re looking at, but honestly, the range is almost unlimited,” Lowe said.

“We will consider all ideas. We’re not in a super hurry to do so, and we’ll just make sure we land the best line-up we can.”