• PlanetF1
  • PlanetRugby
  • LoveRugbyLeague
  • Tennis365
  • TeamTalk
  • Football365
  • PlanetFootball

Daniel Ricciardo’s F1 career highs and lows

Daniel Ricciardo has been a Formula 1 driver since his debut with HRT in 2011 - and like every racing driver, he has had his standout moments, and ones he would rather forget.

One of these came at the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix where he crashed with Alex Albon in the first lap of the race at the third corner.

The Australian has driven for HRT, Toro Rosso, Red Bull, Renault, McLaren, AlphaTauri and Visa CashApp RB. 

Most of his career has been under Red Bull-affiliated teams since he was a Red Bull junior and test driver.

As of writing, Ricciardo has had 243 starts, eight wins, 32 podiums, 1,317 career points, three pole positions and 16 fastest laps in F1. 

He is very popular and is seen as the face of Netflix’s Drive to Survive series.

As a driver for the newly-renamed Visa CashApp RB, his performance has been quite poor and he hasn’t scored a point yet. 

Fans worry how long he will stay in F1 if his performance doesn’t improve as Liam Lawson is waiting in the wings.

Here, Planet Sport’s Ayla Vaughan explains the peaks and troughs of the Australian driver’s time in F1.

High - Beating Sebastian Vettel in 2014 and finishing third in the drivers’ championship

Ricciardo was promoted to Red Bull from the junior team in 2014, replacing fellow Australian Mark Webber. His team-mate was four time world champion Sebastian Vettel, and in his first year driving for the Austrian team, he beat the German in the drivers’ championship.

The Australian had an excellent debut season for Red Bull, scoring three wins, eight podiums and a lowest-place finish of seventh (besides his two retirements and one disqualification). 

He got his first podium with a third-place finish at the Spanish Grand Prix, the fifth race of the year. 

He also got his first win soon after at the Canadian Grand Prix, the seventh race of the year. This broke the six-win streak by Mercedes, who were consistently on the podium and finished first and second in the drivers’ championship.

Ricciardo competed with many F1 drivers who are still on the grid such as Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez and Valterri Bottas. 

Alonso raced closely with Ricciardo at the German Grand Prix and described him as "unbelievable" and "very, very smart, very respectful", according to Sky Sports.

As only the fourth Australian to win a Grand Prix in F1, he set his own records with his wins and podiums at races throughout the season. 

His amazing season for Red Bull was rewarded with the Laureus World Sports Award for Breakthrough of the Year in April 2015, according to Formula 1

He became the fourth F1 driver to win this award, with previous winners being “Juan Pablo Montoya (2002), Lewis Hamilton (2008) and Jenson Button (2010)”, according to the same article.

High - In 2016 Ricciardo once again finished third in the drivers’ championship

Ricciardo’s team-mates in 2016 were Daniil Kyvat and Max Verstappen. Kyvat was demoted to the junior team and replaced by Verstappen at the Spanish Grand Prix, the fifth race of the year. 

Once again, he outperformed his team-mate as Verstappen finished fifth in the drivers’ championship.

The Australian had an amazing third year driving for Red Bull, scoring one win, eight podiums and a lowest-place finish of 11th (his only time out of the points). 

Despite not scoring as many wins as he did in 2014, he was still extremely consistent as shown by his third-place finish in the drivers’ championship. 

Other than Perez, he was the only driver to classify in every race in 2016, showing yet again how much more competitive and consistent Red Bull was. This became a clear strength of his as a racing driver, which is key to fight for a championship.

Ultimately, Ricciardo’s time driving for Red Bull never culminated in a drivers or team world championship as Mercedes dominated the hybrid era from 2014-20 (only in 2021 could Verstappen challenge Lewis Hamilton and come out victorious). 

He arguably was one of the best drivers for Red Bull at the time, but his fate would change once he left the team in 2018.

High - Winning at Monza in 2021 with McLaren

After leaving Red Bull, Ricciardo drove for Renault and McLaren where he struggled to match his many achievements of the past. However, he did score his eighth (and latest) win of his career at the Italian Grand Prix in 2021 for McLaren.

Ricciardo was team-mates with Lando Norris who often beat him in races, but in Monza the Australian won out with Norris finishing in second. He started on the front row and an accident between Verstappen and Hamilton provided the opportunity for him to take the race lead.

This was his first victory since 2018, so this win for him and the team had many positive consequences. Ricciardo had been struggling since joining McLaren, but this proved to fans that he could still win races. 

On his out lap after the chequered flag, he said “and for anyone who thought I left, I never left. Just moved aside for a while,” in this YouTube video

The race was “McLaren's first victory since Jenson Button's victory at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix, McLaren's first 1-2 finish since the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix and also McLaren's first win at Monza since the 2012 Italian Grand Prix,” according to Wikipedia

This win motivated Ricciardo and was arguably his last peak to date after moving to AlphaTauri and Visa CashApp RB.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Sergio Perez's stellar start raises contract speculation at Red Bull Racing

Low - The 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

A large breaking point in Ricciardo’s relationship with Red Bull happened at the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which led to him leaving the team for Renault in 2019. 

He was fighting with his team-mate Verstappen in the latter half of the race and on lap 40, they collided with each other and were both out of the race. 

Following this result, Ricciardo felt the team took Verstappen’s side as the team had fought for him to be in F1 and gave him the chance to do so. Ricciardo thought Verstappen had brake tested him, so he was understandably angry at this incident. 

Verstappen was a serious threat and challenge to Ricciardo as the Dutchman had been seen as a world champion in the making (and he is now a three-time world champion). 

Ricciardo was still a talented F1 driver, but on some days Verstapen was just quicker and better. 

The fact that there were no team orders and they could fight for position further allowed for this clash to happen.

Team principal Christian Horner said: “With Max I got the feeling it was water off a duck’s back.” 

With Ricciardo it wasn’t. In his late 20s, he felt he was being treated like an errant schoolboy for something which was “actually the other guy’s fault”, according to MotorSport

This shows that he didn’t feel he was in the wrong, which was in contrast with the team’s view and that is why he may have felt betrayed and misunderstood.

Low - The McLaren years alongside Lando Norris

After driving for Renault for two years, Ricciardo drove for McLaren for another two years from 2021-22. His team-mate Norris finished ahead of him in the drivers’ championship in his time with the team. Considering Norris was younger and less experienced, he must have felt like Vettel who was beaten by the Australian back in 2014.

Ricciardo finished eighth in the drivers’ championship in 2021, whilst Norris finished in sixth with four podiums. He also wasn’t as consistent as he was in Red Bull as he finished out of the points quite a few times, scoring a total of 115 points.

His morale was arguably the most affected as the media often criticised his performances, arguing this is not the Ricciardo of the past who was brave and broke late. He also didn’t suit the car as much as Norris, so even after the team changed his set-up from race to race, he was never truly comfortable whilst driving for them.

Your team-mate is who you often want to beat in F1 besides the remaining drivers as they have the same machinery as you. Therefore, Ricciardo must have been annoyed that he was often behind Norris. 

In 2022, he scored even worse in races, finishing in the points just six times, ending up 11th in the drivers’ championship with just 37 points.

Low - Ricciardo’s time in AlphaTauri and Visa CashApp RB

Ricciardo was replaced by Oscar Piastri for McLaren so he didn’t have a drive in F1 at the start of 2023. However, after Nyck De Vries’ poor performance for AlphaTauri in the first 10 races of the season, it was announced Ricciardo would replace him. 

This was shown in the latest season of Netflix’s Drive to Survive, where after driving the RB19 in the Pirelli tyre tests after the British Grand Prix, he was called up to drive in the upcoming Hungarian Grand Prix.

This driver change provided the opportunity for Ricciardo to work his way back up to Red Bull in a best-case scenario by driving for the junior team AlphaTauri. However, his hopes were soon dashed when a crash in practice at the Dutch Grand Prix led to him breaking a bone in his hand. 

He was out for five races just when he had trained over the summer to be race fit.

In the end, Ricciardo drove in seven races in 2023 and only scored points in the Mexican Grand Prix with a seventh-place finish. 

He would continue to drive for the newly-renamed Visa CashApp RB in 2024 alongside his team-mate Yuki Tsunoda, another younger and less experienced driver.

Four races into the 2024 F1 season, Ricciardo has not finished in the points and has qualified poorly as well. In contrast, Tsunoda scored points in the last two races in Australia (Ricciardo’s home race) and Japan (Tsunoda’s home race). Red Bull is known as a ruthless team as evident by these mid-season driver changes, so Ricciardo must be feeling the pressure. 

As talented as Ricciardo is for marketing and his bubbly personality, ultimately he is a racing driver so those race results matter greatly. 

Only the future will tell if Ricciardo can continue to impress Red Bull and retain his F1 seat, but as he is now in his 30s there are lots of younger drivers keen to break onto the grid.

READ MORE: Carlos Sainz has "nothing to lose" in his last year at Ferrari

More Articles