Daniel Ricciardo & 2021
It’s more than obvious that having a Daniel Ricciardo (DR) bias comes with the territory here at AUSF1, but along with that bias comes a slight fear. Echos remain of the great Australian racer, Mark Webber - the career of so much promise, but just not in the right place at the right time. Will DR slip into the same career misfortune?
For DR Leaving Red Bull was undoubtedly a great move, he seemed to be under a weight of bad culture, prejudice and leadership. It’s all well and good to say that he had a race winning car, or that Max perhaps got the better of him in 2018 - but with the departure of Brendon Hartley, Daniil Kyvat, Alex Albon (kind of), Carlos Sainz and Danny Ric, it might speak more to the problem of the organisation, rather than the driver. It’s also worth noting that in 2020, DR had the same number of podiums as 2018.
That being said, many in the F1 world say that it’s all or bust for Danny in McLaren - but I disagree.
With DR turning 32 in 2021, he is still at the peak of his racing career, with no sign of falling off the plateau. It’s also worth noting that Lewis Hamilton is now 36, showing no signs of slowing down and Kimi Raikonen was present on the Ark with Noah and is still shining. My point? There’s no age limit to greatness. Of course, the older you get, the slower your reactions might become - but, if your net gain in race craft is more than the 0.6 of a second you might lose - are you really past it?
In my mind, there is no doubt that DR deserves a world title. He is one of the top 3 drivers on the grid right now, but finds himself in machinery that isn’t number 1, for now at least.
2021 sees the engine partnership of McLaren and Mercedes come back to Formula 1, after their splitting of ways in 2014. Whilst it’s unlikely that they’ll be challenging for the top step of the podium in 2021, the regulation changes coming in 2022 are what excites me.
Like all dominating teams, it’s unlikely that the works Mercedes team will continue to dominate. We've seen the rise and fall of Ferrari, Renault, Red Bull in recent history and if there's one thing history likes doing - it's repeating itself.
There’s a real likelihood that McLaren could be the best chance DR has had at becoming a World Champion.
Partnered with Lando Norris, who is a great driver in his own right (but an even better team player, as seen with his performance next to Carlos Sainz in 2019 and 2020), McLaren look set to have one of the strongest pairings on the grid - if not the strongest. Couple that with a strong and supportive leadership and technical team and McLaren actually looks like the best team for the future of F1.
I’m keeping everything crossed that 2022 will bring the machinery for DR to grab is first World Championship, but am still excited for 2021 and seeing that Papaya and Blue challenging for the podium.