Assessing Daniel Ricciardo’s 2019 options

Jawad Yaqub Roar Guru

By Jawad Yaqub, Jawad Yaqub is a Roar Guru

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    Regardless of his emphatic victory at the Chinese Grand Prix last weekend, 2018 was always going to be a landmark year for Daniel Ricciardo, who will be off-contract with Red Bull Racing next season.

    What another remarkable win has done is further boost his already desirable stocks in the driver market, making the popular 28-year-old Aussie the hottest property for 2019.

    Whether it will be with reigning world champions Mercedes; the illustrious Ferrari, at which his Italian heritage would be welcome; or staying loyal to the organisation which has carried him thus far in Formula One, Ricciardo has no shortage of options.

    The million-dollar question is: to which team should the six-time grand prix winner offer his services? The next phase of his career will be the most decisive in terms of Ricciardo becoming the first Australian since Alan Jones in 1980 to win a Formula One title.

    With Ferrari there is the want to see an Aussie drive for the prestigious marque, and there was talk during the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend that an agreement had been reached between Dan and the Scuderia.

    Daniel Ricciardo

    (Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

    However, with Sebastian Vettel helming Maranello’s championship charge now and into the next few years, Ferrari is a risky choice given how political they are with their drivers. Ask Kimi Räikkönen, who for the umpteenth occasion was hung out to dry strategically to help Vettel recover a lead lost due to the team’s own strategy blunder.

    Ricciardo had the measure of the four-time world champion when the pair were teammates at Red Bull Racing in 2014. Vettel, off the back of four consecutive titles, was immediately rocked by a young driver fresh out of feeder team Toro Rosso and was comprehensively defeated.

    At Mercedes the top dog remains as Lewis Hamilton, though it is a team that one feels would be less political as Ferrari as far as having a pair of star drivers is concerned. That isn’t to say Valtteri Bottas isn’t a star driver, but he hasn’t bothered Hamilton in the same way Nico Rosberg previously did in the world championship.

    Remaining with Red Bull Racing is an option too, but with the impending rise of his younger teammate, Max Verstappen, there is a case of Vettel-itis about this and the feeling that the energy drinks giant will place their cans into the basket of the once-in-a-generation Dutch talent.

    Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo during 2018 preseason testing

    (Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

    Having been advised externally not to exclude his existing outfit from negotiations regarding his future, Ricciardo firmly stated following the win in China that the team need to win regularly before he can commit to them further.

    “I think the weekend proved that if I got the opportunity I can pull it off, I can handle that pressure and that intensity,” Ricciardo told Network Ten. “If we can win a few more now with Red Bull, then that looks very attractive. If not, then I guess there’s probably other options.”

    Given his ability to outdrive his woeful Red Bull Racing machinery and his excellent racecraft, which has seen him execute hard but clean overtakes, Ricciardo should be a shoo-in for any team in a position to win world championships.

    But until the announcement is made that Daniel Ricciardo has committed to X, Y or Z for 2019 and beyond, there is no guarantee over anything, and the Aussie himself can do little more to solidify his status as one of Formula One’s elite.

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    The Crowd Says (9)

    • April 20th 2018 @ 2:51am
      FrozenNorth said | April 20th 2018 @ 2:51am | ! Report

      I’d be doing whatever I can to land the Ferrari seat. RBR still don’t have an engine, and don’t look like getting one any time soon. mercedes cannot win forever so that leaves Ferrari.

      • Roar Guru

        April 22nd 2018 @ 1:40pm
        Jawad Yaqub said | April 22nd 2018 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

        Ferrari would be nice, but whilst Sebastian Vettel is the head honcho at the Scuderia – it would be hard for Dan to come in and be the leading title contender.

        There is some light in staying at Milton Keynes, especially if one is to play the waiting game till 2021 and when Aston Martin take over the team and bring with them that new Cosworth engine.

        • April 22nd 2018 @ 4:04pm
          Bamboo said | April 22nd 2018 @ 4:04pm | ! Report

          Thats incorrect. Aston Martin will be producing an Aston Martin engine. The logic behind the simpler engines is that smaller teams can share the R&D costs, and rebadge accordingly. At present, McLaren, Aston Martin (with Newey and Horner as shareholders) Ilmor and Cosworth all want to do this together. The outcome would be Aston Martin and McLaren producing their own engines, with Ilmor and Cosworth being solely engine suppliers to other teams. All pretty much the same engine, all under different names however.

          Point being, Cosworth want to tie up with Red Bull/Aston (plus McLaren and Ilmor) to design this engine. That is completely different to Cosworth supplying engines for Aston Martin.

    • Roar Pro

      April 20th 2018 @ 12:55pm
      anon said | April 20th 2018 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

      Ask Kimi Räikkönen, who for the umpteenth occasion was hung out to dry strategically to help Vettel recover a lead lost due to the team’s own strategy blunder.

      Raikkonen doesn’t have the speed to challenge Vettel for race wins let alone for the championship.

      Raikkonen hasn’t had a pole since he was at Lotus — and I think that pole was down to changeable conditions. Hasn’t had a pole at Ferrari since 2008.

      Kimi should count his lucky stars that Ferrari still employ him as a loyal number two driver. He’s clearly past his best and not worthy of a drive in a top team when you look at the calibre of hungry drivers in midfield teams.

      • Roar Guru

        April 22nd 2018 @ 1:38pm
        Jawad Yaqub said | April 22nd 2018 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

        Kimi was on pole at Monaco last year actually, though that’s been the only pole he’s had since coming back to Ferrari in 2014.

        I’d actually argue that this year, he has been the faster of the two Ferrari drivers to date. China could have easily been pole position for him, if he didn’t end up in traffic.

        • Roar Pro

          April 24th 2018 @ 4:35pm
          anon said | April 24th 2018 @ 4:35pm | ! Report

          Since they’ve been teammates Vettel has had 7 poles and 10 wins.

          Kimi has had a solitary pole in identical equipment.

          Yes, it’s all a Ferrari conspiracy against Kimi. Just like it was a conspiracy when Massa started beating him, when Schumacher wiped the floor with Barrichello.

    • Roar Guru

      April 20th 2018 @ 1:27pm
      Bayden Westerweller said | April 20th 2018 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

      The ball is essentially in Red Bull’s court if it is that desperate to retain Ricciardo, and the first step surely related to engine supply. Once this is known, a decision can’t be far away for Ricciardo, though he shouldn’t feel as though he owes Red Bull anything, he’s been patient for many years, and he needs to take a leap of faith if in doubt.

      He has the fortitude to enter the lions’ den at Ferrari despite the ‘number two’ convention and make the operation his own, That said, he’d fit in perfectly at Mercedes, where’d he’d equally enjoy Hamilton’s respect as much as Vettel would from 2014.

      • Roar Guru

        April 22nd 2018 @ 1:42pm
        Jawad Yaqub said | April 22nd 2018 @ 1:42pm | ! Report

        I’d almost want him to go to Mercedes, just to see what the dynamic with Hamilton would be like. They seem to manage their drivers better than Ferrari too, as we saw when the tensions between Rosberg and Hamilton were at its peak.

        • April 22nd 2018 @ 4:12pm
          Bamboo said | April 22nd 2018 @ 4:12pm | ! Report

          I think one thing that is being underestimated is what activation clauses there are in both Vettels and Hamiltons contracts. For example, rumours have Vettel having an exit clause from his Ferrari contract if he wins a WDC? Its very well known also that Mercedes has first right of refusal on Vettel, with a pre contract signed during Vettels contract extension last year with Ferrari.

          If Vettel wins this year I think hes off the Mercedes, swapping seats with Hamilton, with both drivers vying for winning WDCs with three different teams….a feat only achieved by Fangio to date. You do have to bear in mind that last year was the first year Mercedes have been in F1 (including the 1950s) without a German driver, and that wasn’t by design.

          My prediction:

          Ferrari – Hamilton, Ricciardo
          Mercedes – Vettel, Ocon
          Red Bull – Verstappen, Sainz
          Renault – Alonso, Hulkenberg

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