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.

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

Petit Le Mans championship
IMSA
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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in the final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a victory over Pipo Derani in the the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

With the rebranding of DPi to GTP for the new LMDh cars, Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”