Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Why Daniel Ricciardo must be hired by Red Bull - A quick steerer with proven pace

Published by KerbRider

Ricciardo in Australia
Credit: Mark Watson

As I was sitting watching Qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, I pondered logically about Red Bulls imminent driver decision for 2014. For me, hiring Daniel (Disco Dan) Ricciardo is a no brainer. Here's why...

By hiring Ricciardo, Red Bull will be, for one, demonstrating an actual purpose to their young driver program. For two, investing in the future of their driver line up for years to come and for three, making a wise marketing choice.

Point one - If Red Bull manage to convince Räikkönen to leave Lotus, because that is what they will have to do, then what they are effectively doing is closing the door for any driver in their feeder program(s). Kimi loves his Lotus family, and is more than pleased with a contract that allows him to attend promotional duties of his choice and for only a selected few occasions per annum. His car is competitive enough, and Lotus (née Renault etc) have a strong pedigree in building successful cars. With the prospect of a blank canvas on design from 2014, it could be a case of "better the devil you know" despite the Newey factor. In other words, Kimi appears to be content and moving to Red Bull could be a risk considering Vettel is clearly "the chosen one" and the best Kimi could achieve would only ever be seen as equal, rather than being seen as King of his domain at Lotus.

Red Bull must prepare for their future for when/if Vettel packs up for Marenello. Giving Ricciardo a chance to prove himself, and also prove that in Vettel, they do have a genuine legend in their stable, has to be a motivating force. Daniel is still young, and two years in the big league training against a (soon to be four times?) World Champion can only give a youngster the very best pressure cooker to fine tune your already substantial natural abilities in and out of the car.

Ricciardo has proven his pace. Vergne is no slouch. A very quick steerer who has been well beaten in sheer pace by Ricciardo.

Point two - Hiring Ricciardo will save face for Red Bull. They have spent unknown millions on young drivers for many years. So far, they have achieved a grand total of mentoring one driver onto the top step of the F1 podium. Granted, this one driver has overachieved by a large margin, but on pure ratio alone, that figure is far from acceptable. Red Bull, by placing Ricciardo into the seat is publicly demonstrating to all their youngsters that there is hope, as well as an entire F1 sub-culture.

"Do you believe there is other life out there, in the Red Bull young driver program?"

"Well, with so many of them out there, it'd be silly to think there wasn't Christian!"

If Ricciardo is not chosen, then Red Bull should be immediately putting Toro Rosso on the market, and tearing up the contracts of any driver younger than Vettel they have on their books.

It would be logical to put their money where their mouth is and show they aren't throwing away money just because they have the capacity.

Daniel has built himself a decent cult following

Point three - Granted, Ricciardo has not got the profile or following of Kimi, but in his short time in F1 Daniel has built himself a decent cult following. Thanks largely to his interviewing style that endears him to many and discovered by Red Bull podcast subscribers, Daniel is so personable, and affable that you can hear his big tooth grin shine so bright it subverts natural law and transmits as sound waves right through your speakers. Not only is Daniel serious about his racing, but he has personality. He isn't known for drunken escapades nor is he a boring, monosyllabic Scandinavian.

In their other sports, Red Bull sponsor and support many characters with big, marketable personalities. Regardless of Kimi being regarded as a Demi-god, (of which I am guilty) surely he is not as Red Bull friendly as Ricciardo. Kimi is notoriously difficult with the media, proactively advocates that he despises the modern F1 way of having to sell ones soul for a buck.

"Please sir, may I have more?"

"More! You want more?"

"Mmmm, yeah. Whatever. I mean, I dunno. It's racing. Sure it would be best, but we can ask someone else."

Let me wrap it up by posing a question for you to answer honestly to yourself.

Think of how Kimi reacts when he wins, or podiums... Kinda boring isn't it? An imperceptible smirk, a brief hand in the air to acknowledge the crowd and that's basically it.

Now imagine seeing someone like Ricciardo, who is the complete polar opposite personality of Kimi, win their first race.

Now that is how to sell winning to the want-to-be winning fans!!