Daniel Ricciardo has been perhaps the biggest success story so far this season. Ok, so Jules Bianchi’s stunning drive in Monaco to earn Marussia their first points was a huge landmark, but the manner in which Ricciardo has burst into the spotlight is truly jaw-dropping. For the Aussie to join Red Bull and have the audacity to beat Sebastian Vettel is quite something. Its no surprise then, that after their incredible duel yesterday, Fernando Alonso has been very complimentary to Daniel, stating that he is “driving fantastically.” High praise for the youngster who is certainly turning heads in 2014.
Anything you can do I can do better comes to mind when analysing the Vettel and Ricciardo battle this season. This also goes for the fantastic wheel to wheel racing between Vettel and Alonso in Silverstone – yesterday, Ricciardo enjoyed a similar battle with the Spaniard. While the Aussie was marginally beaten by the double World Champion, his efforts on much older tyres was truly remarkable. His recovery drive in general was remarkable in itself. Perhaps it was overshadowed by Lewis’ storm to P3, but after falling to P15 after being the collateral damage in Massa and Magnussen’s accident, Ricciardo’s drive was even better than that of the Brit’s.
While Hamilton was throwing caution to the wind and pushing his luck on more than one occasion, Daniel’s drive was decidedly more measured and this was evident when Fernando Alonso engaged in combat. Ricciardo has proved his pace over the course of this year and now, evidence of race craft to rival his decorated teammate is now checked off the list. Christian must have been rubbing his hands together yesterday – Mow both his drivers had fought the man who is widely considered the be the best racer on the grid, and both demonstrated that they were up to the challenge.
With almost everyone in the paddock praising Ricciardo’s efforts, not only in Germany, but across the entirety of this season, Fernando himself is the next to offer his applause. “He’s driving fantastically and he was battling very smart – always taking the slipstream off me after I pass him and braking very late, attacking very late and never missing a corner. He was very, very smart, very respectful with the rules and it was a great fight.”
Respectful is perhaps the key word here. That was something that we did not see during the Vettel-Alonso tussle two weeks ago, on either side. The stunning racing was tainted by the bickering on the radio. We know that these two have history, (both on and off the circuit), so perhaps this bickering was inevitable. However, on this occasion, the real battle was played out on the track – not on the radio. Hence, this one may have tasted even sweeter for Fernando, particularly considering that this was a battle which he won.