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F1 2015 Driver Review: Daniel Ricciardo

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Daniel Ricciardo

Team: Infiniti Red Bull Racing
Car No.: 3
Races: 19
Podiums: 2
Best Finish: 2nd (Singapore)
Fastest Laps: 3
Points: 92
Laps Led: 7
Championship Position: 8th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Daniel Ricciardo arguably faced the biggest challenge of anyone on the grid heading into 2015. Having been the breakout star of 2014 by taking three wins from under Mercedes’ nose, the affable Australian entered the new year with a lot to live up to.

Alas, it wasn’t to be in 2015. The issues with the Renault power unit hit Red Bull hard, limiting Ricciardo to just two podium finishes and a lowly eighth place in the drivers’ championship behind teammate Daniil Kvyat. On paper at least, it looks to have been a terrible year for Ricciardo.

In truth though, his championship score belies his on-track antics and fight this year. He was dropped to the back of the grid regularly due to power unit penalties, yet he was often able to battle back up into the points, such as in Austria and Italy.

Singapore was Ricciardo’s finest hour as he pushed Sebastian Vettel close for the race win in spite of the Renault power unit’s deficiencies, showing that the ‘Honey Badger’ still has the fire of 2014 burning brightly.

Once again, Ricciardo was a much-needed source of fun and humor in the paddock. Long may his Instagram antics continue to delight us.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

You can’t have favorites in the media world, but it is hard not to love Daniel Ricciardo. As such, I found myself disappointed that the pitfalls of reliability and poor power unit performance sabotaged what should have been a continuation of his breakout 2014 season and left Ricciardo resigned to eighth in points, with only two podiums a year after three wins and five other podiums.

Nevertheless, the frequently happy Australian kept smiling in the face of adversity all season. Singapore was his star turn of the year as he hoped to catch, but came up just shy, of ex-teammate and new Ferrari man Sebastian Vettel.

For a driver who received accolades for beating Vettel a year ago, seeing him get beat more frequently than not by Daniil Kvyat this year raised a few eyebrows. Perhaps Kvyat was more comfortable with the car.

Either way, both drivers were let down by reliability and poor performance; it spoke volumes that as the team’s attitude was questioned throughout the year, the drivers’ weren’t. In fact the saddest it seemed Ricciardo was all year was when he was told prior to Austin he couldn’t eat meat, then told our Will Buxton post-race, “I’ve had no red meat all week. Tonight I’m gonna eat until I feel pretty sad.”

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).