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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.

Mario Andretti says Colton Herta could be next American star in F1

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Mario Andretti’s last Formula One victory is also the last by an American driver in more than 42 years on the international open-wheel road racing series.

If you had told Andretti that while he was celebrating on the Grand Prix of the Netherlands podium on Aug. 27, 1978 at the Vandzoort circuit, he wouldn’t have believed it.

“Absolutely not,” Andretti told Kyle Petty during the most recent “Coffee With Kyle” episode (video above). “It’s a shame. Somehow we have so much talent here, and either there’s no invitation or something there. But I think it’s time to give some of this young talent that, in my opinion, is absolutely capable.”

The Dutch GP was the last of Andretti’s 12 victories in F1 and came during his championship season. No one since has come close to matching his success in F1.

Mario Andretti drives his Lotus-Ford to victory in the 1978 Grand Prix of the Netherlands (Bernard Cahier/Getty Images).

Andretti’s son, Michael, took a full-time ride with McLaren in 1993 but left with three races remaining in a season marred by crashes and mechanical problems.

Scott Speed was the last American to run a full F1 season in 2006, and Alexander Rossi made the most recent F1 start by a U.S. driver in 2015. Rossi has said he has no desire to return to racing in Europe after winning the 2016 Indianapolis 500 and becoming an IndyCar championship contender.

But Mario Andretti believes Andretti Autosport has another rising star with F1-caliber ability.

“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” Mario Andretti said. “As a young lad, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there. He’s trained. He’s showed in his rookie season and won some premium races at COTA (and Laguna Seca), beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon.

“This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the U.S. colors again.”

Herta, 20, seems interested in exploring an F1 leap over the next few years. After winning Sept. 13 at Mid-Ohio from the pole position (his third career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series), the No. 88 Dallara-Honda driver is ranked fourth in the standings in his sophomore year and regarded as one of the series’ top prospects.

Herta recently told RACER.com “I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack” but said he also would be happy driving in IndyCar and IMSA.

A naturalized U.S. citizen who told Petty about spending several years with his family in an Italian refugee camp before coming to America, Mario Andretti said F1 brought an enormous sense of patriotic pride.

“Formula One is like the Olympics in a sense,” he said. “You’re in a different country, a different continent. When you earn that highest step of the podium, they play your national anthem. That’s when you take nothing for granted. You feel like I’m representing my country, and the proudest moments are those.

“I’d just like to see some other American drivers experience that. It’s time.”

Mario Andretti with four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton before the Nov. 22, 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).

During the “Coffee With Kyle” conversation, Andretti also discussed:

–His versatility as a winner in IndyCar, sports cars, NASCAR and Formula One;

–His 1967 Daytona 500 victory and how he enjoyed racing with crew chief Jake Elder at the famed Holman-Moody team;

Mario Andretti Colton Herta
Mario Andretti and Kyle Petty saluted “The King” by wearing their Richard Petty-style hats during the latest “Coffee With Kyle” (NBCSN).

–Why he delayed his entry to F1 for a few years because of his earnings power in IndyCar. “I always say I’d race for free, but at the same time, you’re thinking of family and the future,” he said. “It was in the back of your mind that you can’t give up the earning power of IndyCar. That kept me from going full time in Formula One, but I always said that sometime in my career, I’d have to devote a period to Formula One.”

–On what it was like racing in an era when driver deaths were more prevalent. “If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to dwell on those negatives,” Andretti said. “There’s no way. You knew it was present. Especially in the ‘60s at the beginning of the season at the drivers meetings, you couldn’t help but look around and say, ‘I wonder who is not going to be here at the end of the season.’ We’d lose four to five guys. In ’64, we lost six guys.

“It’s something if you dwell on that, you’re going to take on a different profession. It’s a desire and love to want to drive that overcame all that and then the confidence it’s not going to happen to me. And then you pray.”

Watch the full “Coffee With Kyle” episode in the video above or by clicking here.

Mario Andretti looks on before the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2019 (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).