Daniel Ricciardo is on the rise
Daniel Ricciardo has all but guaranteed his retention at Toro Rosso in 2013. At the same time, he has gone a long way toward placing himself on top of the pile to join Red Bull when a vacancy presumably arises the following season.
The Australian’s performances since the mid-season break have been hard to miss. He has scored points in three of the past four races, after scoring just once throughout the first eleven.
Ninth place in Belgium gave Ricciardo his first points since finshing in the same position on home soil in the first race of the season.
He was desperately unfortunate to miss out on a point in Italy, running out of fuel at the final corner.
But Ricciardo is not just turning heads by winning points; it’s about the calibre of those he has beaten in recent events.
The West Australian fended off compatriot Mark Webber during the final laps in Singapore to finish ninth, while in Japan, he held his nerve to secure the final point ahead of seven time champion Michael Schumacher.
Ricciardo has been outplaced by teammate Jean-Eric Vergne just once since Spain, despite the Frenchman touting himself as “no worse than Webber” prior to the season.
It is now evident that Ricciardo’s mid-2011 debut is baring fruit. While his time at HRT was, at first, dismissed as a confidence killer, his previous knowledge of tracks such as Belgium, Italy, Singapore and Japan has proven invaluable.
Something crazy would have to happen for Ricciardo not to be retained next season, though as we saw last year, regular points finishes from Jaime Alguersuari were not enough.
Should he line up on the grid in Melbourne next season, Ricciarod will have the opportunity to propel himself into contention for a seat at the senior outfit.
Sebastian Vettel has been widely linked to a seat at Ferrari in 2014, and in the event that this doesn’t happen, Mark Webber has also been mentioned, having turned down an offer to join the Italian team next season.
If either of the two departs, Red Bull would be crazy not to consider Ricciardo ahead of anybody else. His displays in recent races suggest a very bright future – one that the organisation would surely be unwilling to let slip through their clutches.
For now, Korea beckons, and another strong outing would surely prompt a contract offer from Toro Rosso for 2013. Daniel Ricciardo is on the rise.