Between 12 and 15 March, the pace hots up for the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, where Ricciardo will race as premier driver for the Infiniti Red Bull team.
Partnering Sebastian Vettel, four-time world champion, in last year’s Aussie Grand Prix, Ricciardo qualified in second place behind British Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton. In a sensational turn of events, however, Ricciardo was later disqualified for exceeding hourly fuel flow limits.
Had he not been disqualified, it would have been the first time an Aussie had reached the podium at the Australian Grand Prix since the race became part of the World Championship.
So what’s on the cards for this year? Can racing hotshot Ricciardo take out the big prize in this month’s race?
And what do you really know about this homegrown, up-and-coming star?
- 25-year-old Riccardio won the Canada, Hungary and Belgium Grand Prix during 2014, his debut year, finishing third in the drivers’ championship.
- He will take to the circuit this year as Red Bull’s Number One driver, with Russian Daniil Kyvat as his Number Two.
- Can you hear the roar of the crowd over the scream of an F1 engine? “Last year at Melbourne after I crossed the line in qualifying, I did,” he says. “When you cross the line you come off the gas and save fuel a bit and it gets quiet just for a few seconds. Right then I actually did hear the crowd cheering.”
- He’s seeking redemption in Melbourne, after having victory snatched away last March. “Getting a taste of it and then having it taken from me served me well for the season”, he says. “I was really hungry to get back on the podium and to make up for that disappointment. Like a lot of things it toughens you up, so I’m looking forward to 2015 Melbourne and getting a bit of redemption.”
- Daniel’s father, Joe, was born in Sicily, arriving in Australia at the age of seven. It was Joe’s own passion for cars that sparked an early interest in his son. While Joe used to watch motor racing on his grandfather’s shoulders back in Italy, he and Daniel spent hours watching races together on television as Daniel grew up.
- He started Karting at the age of nine, as a member of the Tiger Kart Club (TKC), and entered numerous karting events.
- While Daniel grew up in Perth, he loves coming to Melbourne. His five favourite things about the city are: Laneways, Restaurants, Albert Park, Great Ocean Road and live sports events.
- Daniel has smashed the F1 driver lap record in the hugely popular TV show Top Gear. Taking part in the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car challenge (above), he took a Suzuki Liana around the test track in a stunning 1 minute, 42.1 seconds, seven tenths of a second faster than Lewis Hamilton’s previous record, which he’d held for two years.
- If he hadn’t made it in racing, Ricciardo would probably have had a crack at a tennis career – a sport he always enjoyed. He also admires the way that teen tennis sensation Nick Kyrios works the home crowd at the Australian Open in Melbourne, and is determined to do the same at this year’s Grand Prix.
- In a 2014 Repucom survey, young guns Ricciardo and Kyrios emerged as more popular sports celebrities than Adam Scott, Sally Pearson, Patty Mills, Lleyton Hewitt and Sonny Bill Williams – topped only by Socceroos Captain Tim Cahill and Australian Cricket Captain Michael Clarke.