Team: Red Bull Racing
Car No.: 3
Podiums (excluding wins): 8
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 1
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.