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F1 2017 driver review: Daniel Ricciardo

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Daniel Ricciardo

Team: Red Bull Racing
Car No.: 3
Races: 20
Wins: 1
Podiums (excluding wins): 8
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 200
Laps Led: 23
Championship Position: 5th

Formula 1’s resident Australian enjoyed yet another strong campaign in 2017, leading Red Bull’s charge, but Daniel Ricciardo will know there were plenty of missed opportunities.

Of the races Ricciardo actually finished, he got onto the podium more often than not (9-5), but the lack of reliability from Red Bull’s engine partner Renault left him scrambling to reach the checkered flag, particularly towards the end of the season.

Red Bull was largely marooned as the third-fastest team in the early part of the year, making Ricciardo’s run of five straight podiums from Spain to Austria massively impressive. This run peaked with a shock victory in Baku, capitalizing on the crash-fest at the front in a charge from P10 on the grid to the top step of the rostrum.

Further chances of victory came later in the year as Red Bull made significant strides in the development race, but it was young teammate Max Verstappen who took advantage of the opportunities that arose with wins in Malaysia and Mexico. Ricciardo, by comparison, could only finish third at Sepang and retired in Mexico with an engine issue.

Ricciardo may have finished the year 32 points clear of Verstappen in the final standings, yet he is increasingly looking like a number two driver at the team. Verstappen enjoyed an edge in qualifying – an area Ricciardo has always been strong in – and wrung more out of the car later in the year. Ricciardo failed to beat Verstappen in any of the last six races.

The Dutchman’s new long-term contract at Red Bull plus its pledge to build a team around him is already leading to questions about Ricciardo’s future.

On the whole, Ricciardo performed admirably yet again in 2017, and so long as Renault can resolve its power unit struggles, a title bid is certainly on the cards.

It will be interesting to see just how he fares against Verstappen when the two are even more embroiled in the fight at the front of the field.

Season High: Snatching victory in Baku after starting 10th.

Season Low: Retiring early in Hungary after being hit by Verstappen.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.