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Daniel Ricciardo and the art of backmarkerdom in Formula 1
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Posted By: James Allen  |  18 Jul 2011   |  6:57 pm GMT  |  118 comments

Daniel Ricciardo did not have an easy time of it in his F1 debut at Silverstone.

The conditions were tricky for all the drivers, but especially for one who was racing in the full glare of public attention for the first time.

But what was really interesting about his race for me was learning that there is an art to backmarkerdom, which drivers in that position must learn.

Basically if you drive a Hispania or one of the slower cars, you are going to be lapped several times by the leader during a race and by plenty of other cars too. The art is in not losing too much time in the process. Ricciardo will have spent as much time looking in his mirrors for Red Bulls, Ferraris and the rest as he will looking at the track.

I’m told by insiders that by moving off line, getting the tyres dirty and cleaning them up again, which takes a few corners, he was losing around 4 seconds every time a car lapped him, relative to what he would have done on a clear lap.

In comparison his team mate Tonio Liuzzi has now got being lapped down to a fine art and loses only around 0.8sec every time. So Ricciardo was a long way behind Liuzzi at the end. This is something he will be looking to rectify this weekend at the Nurburgring.

It is always interesting when a driver with a lot of promise is obliged to start his career in a backmarker car because it is an unaccustomed position for them to be in, having usually been winners who dominated the junior categories.

Ricciardo was also slightly disappointed after qualifying that he did’t get more out of the Pirelli tyres and this is another area he will be wanting to improve this weekend.

Ricciardo lost seven seconds to Liuzzi in the first ten laps on a damp track on intermediate tyres before the pit stops.

He was half a second slower than the Italian in qualifying and his fastest race lap was four tenths slower.

Moving to HRT from the relative security of the Friday test role at Toro Rosso was a bit of a gamble for Ricciardo and his Red Bull mentor Helmut Marko.

He was a young guy full of potential with fast lap times in the two young guns tests he’s done for Red Bull and no pressure on him on Fridays. He has to show strong progress over the ten races he’s contesting or some of that sheen will come off.

I reminded him that Damon Hill had a similar experience at Silverstone in 1992 in an uncompetitive Brabham, being lapped by Nigel Mansell. But a year later Damon was winning races and four years afterwards he became the world champion.

On a side note, with the team having been taken over by Spanish investors Thesan Capital, there is some suggestion that former GP2 front runner Javier Villa may do some Friday test drives and that in time Liuzzi may be replaced by the Spaniard.

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118 Comments
  1. Mario says:

    all the best to the boy

  2. Williams4Ever says:

    Nothing against Daniel Ricciardo, he deserves the best opportunity to prove his talent. But this article again is a good example how English media (and pundits) treat English speaking drivers and their interests with “special care”.

    Lots of uninformed fans have taken cheap shots at both NK and Liuzzi when they have not relinquished racing “Immediately”, and waited for next suitable corner to let the leaders pass them. I wonder where the sense of fairness was for the Pundits of F1 to explain these uninformed fans why VL/NK can’t lift off go off racing line immediately there is Webber/Lewis/Button in behind them.

    On the same note would like to point out Ricciardo was interviewed twice by Beeb during the race weekend, the first HRT driver to be interviewed this season. The English media didn’t think it was relevant for the English speaking fans to know F1 weekend from point of view of a Narain or Vitantonio.

    Karun seems to have made pals with lots of folks at Beeb, that he gets decent coverage last year as well as this year (which actually has resulted in more sympathizers for him, disproportionate to his driving skills)

    So much for fairness to Non-English Drivers/Teams on the grid.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think that’s very unfair. I’ve always been interested in upcoming drivers whatever nationality.

      1. Rob says:

        I couldn’t agree more with you James. There is always interest in a new driver whatever the nationality. Liuzzi and NK are old hats driving cars that can’t attract a title sponsor.

        I guarantee you while Daniel is still languishing at the tail of the field in Germany it will only be the Australian media interested in him.

        If Daniel starts Eclipsing Liuzzi quickly then he’ll be talked about again and his stock will rise. Think of how much coverage Di Resta has received all season over Sutil at Force India.

      2. Williams4Eever says:

        James,

        I am a fan of your views on F1 on TV on this blog and appreciate you publishing my views. However data doesn’t support your argument. I wish there was more solid defense of all those NK’s and Liuzzi’s, given that you are cognizant of views that posters on forums like this and others, these drivers are pretty much left on their own. Given that you and other Pundits have so much insight of what goes behind the scenes in F1, and new fans make opinions based on your statements (many a times verbatim basis, with logic ” This is true because ABC/XYZ said so on TV/Article”), hence those balanced views would help not only the drivers/teams but also to fans to appreciate the sport better.

        I appreciate again that you did post my views.

      3. Mitchel says:

        I agree with this- Liuzzi is doing an alright job isn’t he? But nobody ever seems to talk to him. I don’t think I’ve seen any footage of NK or VL. To be honest, Timo doesn’t get a look in either. In general coverage is very Group Lotus-centric when it comes to the new (ish) teams. Perhaps not without good reason, though!

      4. unoc12 says:

        It’s quite simple.

        Ricciardo has new to F1 and hadn’t been interviewed before as he had never taken part in a Gran Prix.

        L/K both have taken part in many.

        If you’ve followed F1 for a few years you would have heard both before while you still wouldn’t have heard from Ricciardo.

        That being siad alot of focus does tend to be on certain drivers, but that tends to be because many people who watch F1 just want to see their countries drivers.

        For example….
        BBC – Brundle and Coulthard love to mention Di Resta when ever he does something despite being midfield, and the team do features with Button and Hamilton most GP’s. You can’t really follow the Alg/Bu battle at Torro Rosso though.
        One – The 3 stooges tend to just talk about Webber.. mixed with Webber, Webber, the odd call to James Allen and Webber. And now Ricciardo as well.
        Spanish media – Alonso, Fernando, Alfonso, the Ferrari driver not known as Massa and the spanish Ferrari driver. Also sometimes Alg, but rarely.

        So a combo, on TV, it’s probably that is probably why. For JA it’s probably because Ricciardo is new.

        BTW @James, sometime I wouldn’t mind is a mid GP2/FR3.5 top prospects for 2012. Do you think Pic, der Garde, Bianchi, Grojean, Wickens etc… stand a chance? How about Hartley after being dropped from Red Bull?

      5. Phil says:

        James,

        Not that I agree with Williams4Ever comments but…
        Do you sometimes take a closer look at the two Australian drivers because of your commitments to ONE HD broadcast in Australia?

        Williams4Ever, perhaps that’s why James is looking at Ricciardo, because he is extensively looking at him already for another job.

      6. James Allen says:

        Not really. I’ve looked closely at Perez, Alguersuari, Kobayashi etc etc this season. If you look carefully at post Silverstone comments, you’ll see many fans asking me to do analysis of Ricciardo’s race. So this was a response to that as much as anything else

      7. Williams4Ever says:

        And the issue here was not about Upcoming drivers and coverage they get, my point is no Pundits educates the uninformed fans when they make caustic comments about drivers without knowing facts. There have been races (like recent Canadian GP, or Valencia) where back markers have not relinquished racing position, since the piece of track was not right for their own race to continue (Wet tarmac, marbles offline etc) and fans abuse these drivers, none of the pundits take time to explain why a NK or VL didn’t give up position rather instigate fans.

        So now the elaborate description of Daniel(English speaking driver) and his backmarkerdom comes against the spirit of non defense of other drivers in similar articles/media channels.

        One exception among the Pundits is one guy who writes exclusively on Tyres. Given that his articles are true to “Tyres” they are fair to drivers may it be Button or may it be Barrichello :-) ( I am sure you must have guessed the Pundit).

      8. NK has been poor all his career. Not sure about his early career but he was handily destroyed in 05 by Monteiro and now Luizzi. Luizzi hasn’t faired that well despite having some opportunities.

        Granted, I get the essence of Williams4ever’s post and have to say I agree. Driver like Webber and Button have much more opportunities to prove themselves than drivers from other nationalities, save perhaps Germans and perhaps Brazilians.

        Button was a good driver when he debuted but he didn’t show anything particularly special for the first season or 2 of his career (as well as later being embroiled in contract problems). For any other driver, after being replaced due to poor performances after 2 seasons (which Button was for 2003) is usually a career ending move, but Button survived. It’s the first season or 2 that are crucial for an F1 driver.

        Webber has had a similar run, and while he’s been decent, a lot of his poor performances were said to be due to bad luck, which I don’t agree was the case all the time…

        Granted this isn’t necessarily a shot at you James, just the media in general.

      9. Mitchell says:

        The fact of the matter is that Ricciardo was mentioned by Frank Williams (Re Williams4Ever) as the next superstar of all the young drivers.

        I was very disappointed by his debut race. He showed promise in practice but I could see exactly what you are describing during the race.

        Ricciardo would not often simply ‘pop off’ the racing line, at one point when the television was covering Mark Webber it showed Daniel diving for cover. The RB7 passed him on the straight like a M3 against a caravan-towing-Kia.

        Daniel was simply trying to get out of everyones road and it honestly wouldn’t surprise me if he lost well over 4 seconds on some laps.

        I thought it was good for Daniel to get tarnished, but when I see thread titles on Aussie forums saying “Disappointing Ricciardo” I do have to wonder if this is a bad move for him.

      10. Mitchell says:

        Note on the last paragraph that was meant to read “Good for Daniel to get experience”.

        Also the point I didn’t make very well is that he is getting alot of coverage because this is the guy who clocked faster than S.Vettel in the young driver test and has had all of the media hype surrounding him.

        No one has ever described Karthikeyan as an up and coming superstar, so obviously people will be interested in how Daniel gets on.

      11. Mitchell says:

        One other point is that most journalists and commentators show obvious nation bias, its natural, this is sport after all.

        The start of the Silverstone GP showed this, Coulthard and Brundle were obviously watching what Lewis and Jenson were doing.

        I had my eyes on Mark Webber in pole and clearly saw that Sebastian Vettel got off the line faster and took the lead, but it took them a few corners to realise what was going on. Initially saying “Mark Webber has maintained his lead”, “No thats actually Sebastian in front”.

        Not really relevant but I thought it was an interesting observation they were watching the Brits.

      12. Merlinghnd says:

        I too consider this unfair on James. I am sure this article could have been on any driver of any nationality in the same position of Daniel Ricciardo.

        I like this type of informative article by James, it informs me and then helps give me some insight in to the relative performance of future rookie drivers.

        Regarding the BBC, its core audience is the British public who pay for the BBC directly through the License Fee. I am sure the German and Italian media are the same as the BBC with thier coverage of their national drivers. If I recall correctly a German TV executive stated that they have 2 sports they cover, football and Michael Schumacher but I guess this they now have 3 sports, the third being Sebastian Vettel!!

      13. jmv says:

        Jerome dAmbrosio complained the other day that he isnt getting any coverage at all. He has done well against experienced Glock, yet no one cares.

        I think his comment holds some truth.

      14. SBN says:

        Being an Australian viewer watching the Australian broadcast, there is a great deal of focus on Webber and recently Ricciardo – be it interviews or special stories. I assume the media in which ever country would be bias towards their drivers. BBC for British drivers. Italian and Spanish media for Ferrari and Alonso/Massa. This is human nature….

        Jerome is Belgian (of Italian descent) So, the question is, why aren’t the Belgian journalist writing about their driver?

        Fans of Jerome should perhaps start up a fan site / blog and start writing articles about Jerome, posting them to various F1 portals. It’s really up to Jerome and his PR team to drum up some interest in his brand.

      15. David McVey says:

        I seem to remember Narain getting some face time with Big Jake on the Beeb at one of the races.

      16. David McVey says:

        “I had my eyes on Mark Webber in pole and clearly saw that Sebastian Vettel got off the line faster and took the lead, but it took them a few corners to realise what was going on. Initially saying “Mark Webber has maintained his lead”, “No thats actually Sebastian in front”.

        Not really relevant but I thought it was an interesting observation they were watching the Brits.”

        That’s not really fair comment. Brundle correced himseld as the drivers went through turn 3 and with all the timing screens they have to digest along with Directors giving instructions through earpieces it’s quite understandable really if you miss something at the start because they’re keeping an eye on lots of things such as was the a jump start etc.

    2. Trent says:

      Australia and the UK have a close relationship, and we have received the BBC F1 coverage for many years here in Australia.

      Murray Walker used to make a point of telling us how Alan Jones was going during the race…I think that is normal and not noteworthy.

      Likewise, I wouldn’t be surprised nor offended if American coverage put some degree of emphasis on a Canadian driver.

    3. russ says:

      I’m also confused by how much exposure chandok gets when compared to how little ability he showed. I wonder as to whether his nationality is thought to attract new viewers. I’m glad it is Anthony Davidson back in the r5 podcast.

      1. David McVey says:

        He kept senna honest and achieved HRT best result of the season last year as I recall.

      2. Nando says:

        Chandok is an excellent pundit. There are also getting on for 2 million British Indians in the UK.

    4. nsx says:

      James and the English media have given good coverage to drivers making their debut in the past such as Kobayashi. Sergio Perez also received very good coverage for his debut race in Australia.

      There was less interest in Narain as he had previously had a season in F1 for Jordan in 2005. Tonio has driven for many seasons now, and with many teams.

      Tonio also had a regular interviews with ESPN last year, and we got to hear all about his problems with the Force India car. It gave a very good insight into him as a person and as a racer.

      It was also widely pointed out in the English media and by James as well that Fernando Alonso lost a stack of time in Canada last year, due to backmarkers at a critical phase, and everyone acknowledged it could well have cost him the GP. So to simply say backmarkers are only complained about when they cost Hamilton or Button does not add up.

      Sorry, but your argument does not stack up.

    5. Jaw Jaw says:

      Is this repressed memory syndrome? Koby, Maldonado and Perez have all deservedly got high praise. Under the pump these 3 have all established their credentials. Daniel’s times were astounding in testing and that’s why everyone is now folllowing him too. Throw in Di Resta and maybe Hulkenberg and even maybe-er Jaime and Buemi and you have the basis of an emerging field.

    6. Chapor says:

      You should watch the German coverage of F1 on RTL. You would think that there are only Vettel, Schumacher, Sutil, Rosberg, Glock and Heidfeld driving against some other guys…

      This site has a most comprehensive spread of information on all aspects of F1 that you will not get on other sites. I don’t think that James has an influence over what BBC decides to cover and what they don’t.

    7. jmv says:

      I can understand William4Ever comment… reading the title of the article it is almost that because it is (the likeable and English speaking) Ricciardo, backmarkerdom suddenly becomes an “art”. No one ever cared before.

      But I must also admit I read many things about backmarkerdom that I didnt knew before…. and yes I agree its a bit of an art.

      So thanks for the insights!

    8. iceman says:

      I can’t agree with the assessment of bias. The article is mainly about how much slower Ricciardo was than Liuzzi, including being 5 times worse at the “art of backmarkerdom.” James is obviously not going to slam a driver for an unimpressive performance in his first ever race, but he does say Ricciardo needs to show strong progress over the next 10 races. To me it seems a pretty objective piece. I think we can perceive bias wherever we search for it.

    9. Mitori says:

      I think you are complaining on the wrong website,
      but in general you could be right.
      I live in Germany at the moment and the ‘fans’ dont care anyhow about other than german drivers.
      Winning germans are big bucks so the german media is exploiting that. The real german F1 fans read GB media en watch Austria’s ORF to gather information. Thats the way it is. ( Hamilton, euhhh… Scherzingers toyboy? Button, who’s Button? Alonso, ruined Schumacher by cheating! etc. ) ;-)

    10. Toby says:

      @Williams4ever – You speak as if these “pundits” are representing the sport to the entire world. They’re not. They’re speaking to English speaking fans, so there may well be a bit of bias (I don’t think so, but I’m often wrong).

      Now that you’ve sounded off about it here, it might be time for you to duck over to the Polish F1 sites, the Italian ones, the Indian, Brazilian, Belgian, Japanese, Spanish, Venezualan, German, Finnish and Russian ones and have a read. They may well be in need of your social commentary too. ;)

  3. The Talent says:

    I remember before Silverstone how people were saying that young Ricciardo was going to wipe the floor with his ‘weak’ teammate Liuzzi.
    It didn’t quite happen like that, though, did it?
    Anyone who makes it to the pinnacle of motor-racing deserves respect, and I think Liuzzi is a better driver than many give him credit for.
    Ricciardo is young and will get better, so for now let’s give him time to do just that-against the best drivers in the world-instead of putting a silly amount of pressure on him.

    1. Mitchell says:

      Liuzzi out qualified Vettel and outperformed him in the majority of races for their first season together.

      Daniel had issues with the backmarkers. This is exactly why the HRT car is a bad place to show his skill. In a Torro Rosso he’d likely finish on the lead lap (or 1 down).

      1. jmv says:

        or maybe a bad car is an excellent place to show your skills. Remember that the great drivers always displayed talent to make up for the deficiencies of a bad car.

        If Ricciardo is not outracing Liuzzi by the end of the season…(am talking tenths and hundreds of seconds instead of half seconds) then one will have to wonder.

  4. Andy C says:

    I’m interested to see how he gets on this season, for exactly the reason you mentioned James.

    He’s a rising star and is destined for the top. What this does give him an opportunity to do is get some actual race fitness this year.

    I’m sure we’ll see him at TR next year.

    Liuzzi is as you say, greatly more experienced at letting people past him ;-) He’s got experience in lots of different cars of doing that.

    1. JEVthebest says:

      Just to say. If Vergne wins the title, he will surely be in Formula one at Toro Rosso. That’s absolutely sure.

  5. DC Corey says:

    James:

    Any insight into what it cost to put Ricciardo in the HRT, and if there’s an option for him to continue there next season, assuming there’s no room at the inn at Red Bull or Toro Rosso?

    Thanks. Oh and keep up the great work. Wonderful blog.

  6. Ross says:

    Has there been a recent example of a highly rated rookies reputation ruined by spending some time at a backmarker. Bruno Senna is one that springs to mind considering he was a whisker from getting the Brawn seat the year previous. But there have always been doubts over Bruno’s ability. I am sure there are more examples of drivers who have excelled.

    It would be lunacy for HRT to replace Liuzzi with anyone never mind a rookie. He has done a tremendous job for them and maybe the difference between that payment for 10th in the constructors championship and finishing last.

    1. Stu says:

      Agreed, Liuzzi is the only good thing about the team – until Geoff Wills can design his own car possibly.

  7. jmv says:

    so aside from learning the tricks of backmarkerdom-racing, what is the added value of running in an HRT? please dont tell me it has to do with running in F1…

  8. Paul says:

    Had heard about the Villa deal. Was totally unconvinced by him in GP2. Is there a reason why Villa rather than any other Spanish up and coming driver (i.e. Soucek, Clos, Costa, Merhi, etc)? I’m assuming money is a factor?

  9. Yet another reason, in my humble opinion, to allow testing on Fridays. Dawn to dusk, 3rd car only, non-racing driver. Testing can be punctuated with practice sessions in defined time slots for race chassis and race drivers.

    I know the 3rd car thing may be a stretch for some teams, but this is F1. Also, I think the 3rd chassis should be available to replace a damaged race car from practice or qualifying. We all know they bring enough parts for a 3rd car anyways, why not let them run it.

    I would love to see some of these younger hopefuls get some real, meaningful running time. Something where we can all see what their relative performance truly is. Something so that when they get the call to race, they are 100% ready to go.

    1. mark says:

      I agree with these points. Even if it is just for the previous weeks non top 10 qualifiers or lowest 10 teams in the series or “something”. The experience the older teams bring to the track far outweigh what any newer or uncompetitive team can “develop” over the year.

      We all want close racing, allow some of the slower teams to ACTUALLY test on the friday would be an easy, within the existing weekend structure, change.

      And heaven forbid we get closer racing without DRS etc….

    2. SH says:

      Be even better if they could stage a couple of ten-lap ‘best of the rest’ races on Friday for test drivers, using a third car.

  10. goferet says:

    I swear, I do not recall seeing Ricciardo the entire race. I don’t know why but all backmarkers look the same to me i.e. Those fellas that should jump out the way when the steam train comes through.

    Well I guess Damon Hill’s career just goes to show that with a Red Bull car under you, any driver on the grid can go on to win races & the WDC – From pole!

    From what I have read, it doesn’t appear Ricciardo is the real deal, he’s maybe a another number 2 driver aka Fake Aussie Grit, for didn’t Damon Hill become number 1 in the team when Senna passed & lets not forget Senna was out qualifying Damon by over a sec & destroying him in races.

    Alright, on to the next talent please, maybe the Spanish guy but that would mean 4 Spanish on the grid + 5 Germans + 3 Brits Geez …

    And where are my Belgian drivers, my Swiss drivers, my French drivers, my Irish drivers. What’s going on in F1?

    1. dpt41184 says:

      Jerome d’Ambrosio is Belgian and Sebastien Buemi is Swiss so that’s two of your four. Besides Adam Carroll I can’t think of another top Irish driver (please correct me) and the French seem to be largely anonymous in european single seaters now.

      As for Damon Hill , he is the only driver to have Prost , Senna , and Mansell as a team mate and stacked up pretty well against them all.He served a tough apprenticeship with Brabham in 1992 and his early career was no cakewalk either. I think his championship was more than deserved.

      1. rfs says:

        France has Bianchi, Grosjean, and Jean-Eric Vergne.

      2. JEVthebest says:

        The French drivers are coming up, Vergne and Bianchi are the most talented of them. I believe that they are better than Ricciardo or Buemi or even D’Ambrosio whom never won anything in his career.

    2. Aleks Armstrong says:

      I make it 6 German drivers (2 who shoudn’t be there) + 1 reserve who should be.

    3. Ben Yeats says:

      Damon’s race results were better than Senna’s in the two races (not including Imola) they were team mates. 6 points to 0. Sure Senna was faster but Hill finished, to finish first etc….

    4. nick hipkin says:

      Let me refer you to Jean Eric vergne, ricciardos team mate in the renault world series. This frenchman is leading the standings in his first season, he is backed by red bull and he looks to have a lot more potential. Perhaps vettels teammate in a couple of years? James, do you sense he is on the team bosses radar yet?

    5. “From what I have read, it doesn’t appear Ricciardo is the real deal, he’s maybe a another number 2 driver aka Fake Aussie Grit,”

      Where did you read this? What basis of comparison was used? You know that Kobayashi did rather poorly in GP2 before he shone in F1 (mind you, he stepped into a car that was points-worthy, not an HRT).

      How did Alguersuari’s first F1 race go? Grosjean? Ricciardo has had very little time in an F1 car, and is now thrown up against a seasoned veteran.

      “lets not forget Senna was out qualifying Damon by over a sec & destroying him in races.”

      You seem to be forgetting that Senna was much more experienced than Damon at that time, and also that the cars in 1994 were terribly twitchy and unpredictable given the ban on active suspension. Senna liked (or didn’t mind) nervous cars, whereas that doesn’t suit every driver’s style. By the end of 1994, when he was used to the car, he was doing quite well against Schumacher. Your argument doesn’t stand up very well.

      Beyond that, everyone knows that an average F1 driver can do exceedingly well in a stellar F1 car… but you seem to forget that an “average F1 driver” is still exceedingly talented compared to many other racing drivers in the world.

      Aside from that, racing is a business that relies on sponsors. Right now, F1 is popular in Spain, Germany and the UK, so more drivers from those countries end up with sponsorship through the lower ranks, so you end up with an abundance of them in the radar of F1 teams. There isn’t a single paid driver in FR3.5, GP2, F2, F3, GP3, etc. They all have to bring their own money.

      Why are there no Americans in F1? Because there are no Americans that can get the sponsorship to get into FR3.5 or GP2, because American companies don’t care much about F1, so they don’t see value in sponsoring an American driver in a support series that’s out of the F1 spotlight. That’s the same reason why there are no French drivers, etc.

      On the other hand, the legacy of the Brazilian Marlboro driver development program is still going. F1 is popular in Brazil, so countries know that they can reap rewards by investing in a young driver early on, and then stay with them until they get to F1. That’s why, since Fittipaldi, there has been a steady stream of Brazilians in F1, and only one or two Canadians and Americans.

      Do a little research before you post. It’s not a conspiracy, it’s economics.

      1. “F1 is popular in Brazil, so countries know that they can reap rewards by investing in a young driver early on, and then stay with them until they get to F1.”

        I meant to say “…*companies* know that they can reap rewards…”

    6. Andy C says:

      You have a completely different evaluation of Damon Hill than most who saw him then.

      He gave a good account of himself against some fantastic drivers, including Schumacher at his peak, Prost, Senna (need I go on).

      He was dreadfully unlucky (when Schumi had a case of willful wing mirror blindness) not to win two WDCs.

      I should imagine that if Ricciardo won the WDC he wouldnt give two hoots whether you thought he was worth the accolade. I’ve never seen a poor driver win the WDC.

      Many people have the best car at one point in their career. There are few who actually have the application and the skill to convert that into a championship.

  11. Dan says:

    Alonso also had a similar experience in 2001 when he was driving a Minardi as well. Even if a driver is in the worst car on the grid they can still make an impression. Alonso managed to beat the Benettons and Arrows a couple of times that year, Ricciardo will do well if he manages to make the experienced Liuzzi look slow.

    1. cjf says:

      The cream always floats to the top, even in back of the grid cars. I think i’m right in saying that Alonso once finished 12th in a Minardi (a car that regularly finished a lap or two down) and Kimi finished his dubut race in a Sauber in 6th!

      How often do we see a HRT finishing midfield or a Virgin/Lotus finishing 6th!

      1. colin says:

        Cars are much more evenly matched and reliable these days. Grid is bigger too.

    2. Phil says:

      Dan,

      James said something similar about Alonso in his first post about Ricciardo driving for HRT, and mentioned Hill in the Brabham now. That they were able to learn their race craft without any spotlight/pressure on them.

      But my thoughts on this are, yes those drivers (Alonso et. al.) were in the worst cares, but were those cars as bad as HRT. Were the Minardi’s and Brabham’s being lapped 3-4 times per race by nearly the whole field. As James points out, there is a craft to be learnt about being lapped, but if Riccardo is learning how to be lapped, is he developing his race craft? Alonso and Hill could spend more time on the limit learning to race hard, because they were not needing to back off 40+ times a race to keep letting the rest of the field through.

      I think that should be noted and is a considerable difference in their experiences.

    3. nsx says:

      Yep. Don’t forget Webber also did amazing things in the Minardi the following season. Finishing an incredible 5th in his debut grand prix and holding out the Toyota of Mika Salo.

      Paul Stoddart will tell you both Alonso and Webber were amazing, and both were future world champions. Red Bull cost Mark the world championship last year, by screwing over Mark in his home GP by not letting him pit until Seb pitted, and since Seb waited two extra laps to pit, it forced Mark to wait three extra laps. By telling Mark to hold station behind Seb in Canada and also screwing Mark’s strategy relative to Seb in Italy.

      Please go to Ferrari Mark. Better being Fernando’s shoe shiner than Seb’s. Because Ferrari openly acknowledge who is the No.1 driver, rather than pretending both drivers are given an equal shot.

      1. James Allen says:

        Difference is that Webber and Alonso at Minardi both had poor quality team mates. Ricciardo has a good benchmark in Liuzzi

      2. Williams4ever says:

        NSX – Everybody seems to forget that half the front field was wiped out in early race incident on that debut race of Mark Webber.

        Mark was back marker and hence survived the carnage. It was not as if Mark finished that Minardi in 6th place under normal race conditions, with him passing faster cars on track and his team beating them on strategy from pitwall.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2002_Australian_Grand_Prix

      3. Stuart CLark says:

        To finish fifth, first you must finish.

    4. Matt says:

      I’ve read the same as a lot of other drivers have come from the ranks. The issue now is money and impatience (see hulks berg for money, as well as Bruno).

  12. irish con says:

    i fail to see how any experience for a young driver in an f1 car can be bad. i think this will only help daniel in the long run. didnt do alonso or webber any harm.

    1. Mitchell says:

      Webber came 5th in his first race. Ricciardo came last.

      1. Andy C says:

        I’m a big fan of Mark, but I think you’d better check the history of that race and how he came to finish in that position. It was a massive attrition rate, and a solid drive that got him that result.

  13. Becken says:

    Very interesting insights into the art of been lapped, James, thanks.

    About Liuzzi been replaced by other young guy, this would be a disaster to Hispania and to Ricciardo too, who seems to be have genuine talent. The best way to evaluate Daniel is to let him drive alongside an experienced and fast driver as is Liuzzi.

    Tonio have some internal data, he knows the car well and can bring the feedback that Daniel can’t do so far to the team.

    1. Williams4Ever says:

      Well we are talking about HRT here, whats the risk of Liuzzi bringing lots of technical insights to the team, lower teams are just meant to be stepping stones for young talent anyways. As long as the managers of these young drivers have cut a deal with Front of the grid team and pay for their current ride and cheque doesn’t default everybody goes home happy.

      Alonso/Webber could have pounded miles after miles for Minardi, point to note that they already had influential manager in Flavio who had put his drivers in those lowly teams as placeholders, their non/results would have ultimately had no bearing on their getting race seat in team up in the grid, it was merely a formality.

      1. The risk is that they need to keep developing the car so they do not fall outside the 107% limit in qualifying.

        Another risk is that they are still fighting against Virgin, and if they give up a talented driver for an untested driver, they could end up having some very poor finishes and not challenge Virgin for the rest of the season. If they can get a few good finishes ahead of Virgin, they might be able to finish ahead of them in the year-end standings, and take home some good cash.

        They are a racing team after all, so they are aiming to do better. Their goals are relative, but they still have them.

  14. jez says:

    Ricciardo will only be there gaining mileage until the en of the season when one of the RBR/ TR drivers gets the push…

  15. Sebee says:

    On a rainy Sunday recently I flipped through my old collection of race weekend programs. And who shall I find in my 2001 Silverstone program but non other than Alonso driving for European Minardi F1. Now I know most of us know this fact, but knowing it and seeing the photo of Alonso in a Minardi suit again are very different things…

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_ZGv2aVErBEs/TUvr5q9R2NI/AAAAAAAAAAw/7MjT9h19A00/s1600/alonso-minardi.jpg

  16. PeteM says:

    James, I reckon the positive is that he got a full GP under his belt and that in itself I would imagine would be a huge releif for Daniel. Had he not of finished it may well of looked like a total disaster, but I think HRT would of been happy with his result.
    The conditions Silverstone dished out could not of been easy for anyone little lone an F1 debutant.

  17. drama queen says:

    Good luck Daniel, chin up !

  18. Trent says:

    I’m surprised that the backmarkers don’t make the leaders go off-line to pass. Is this forbidden, or just seen as poor etiquette?

    1. Williams4ever says:

      Leaders have that choice, but who has courage to go off racing line and pass a driver and risk losing car in the process.

      Recent Indy 500 was good example of Race leader going off racing line to avoid back marker and as a result had race ending in tears thanks to last lap, last corner lap, once he lost the car on debris…

    2. Penalties are assessed if the leaders take more than three blue-flags to pass a backmarker. So the game becomes how to make sure they pass you quickly without taking up too much time (slightly easing off the throttle before a braking zone, leaving a car-width at turn-in, etc… not pulling way off-line, leaving three car-widths at the apex, etc).

      I bet a season in a GT car in endurance racing would make these drivers much more well-rounded, and they would get a LOT of experience with being lapped.

  19. Forbula says:

    This reminds me of the onboard footage of Mark Webber in Valencia shaking fist at a “GP2 speed” HRT which was holding him up.

    Not sure if Daniel would be impressing his bosses up the pitlane too much in loosing only 8 tenths there…

    1. Williams4ever says:

      This reminds me of the onboard footage of Mark Webber in Valencia shaking fist at a “GP2 speed” HRT which was holding him up.
      >> You should have heard not so kind comments from the commentators on TV about that back marker.
      Backmarker driving was not an “ART” as of Valencia’11, but we have suddenly discovered that its an art form in Silverstone’11….

      1. Scuderia Missile says:

        Williams,

        Give it a break! James is doing a fine job of reporting, breaking stories rather than regurgitating PR releases. By the sounds of your posts though, he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesnt!

  20. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    I think the biggest thing a driver gains in running a backmarker for a season or two is humility and respect. Something Lewis could do with. I would imagine it has been a humbling experience for people like Trulli, Glock, Kovi, etc who are running in the back half of the grid. This would arguably make them better drivers by learning to make the best with the equipment you have rather than parachuting into a good team. I would argue Kovi would do better in a Maclaren now than when he got his first run.

  21. rvd says:

    I was hoping he might finish a little closer to Liuzzi, however I think he did a decent job.

  22. JRay says:

    Hi James
    Unless its a certainty that Daniel is driving for a “major” team next year I really fear for his career. This move by Marko has to be said could be very ill timed. I dont necessarily believe that the “practise” he is having in a bad car will be good for him, it may just be a lesson in how to drive a bad car around. If Marko and Redbull believe this is good “training” maybe they need to look at Vettel and Hamilton who although a big fan of Hamilton never had to face the indignity of a low level drive, unlike other greats like Schumacher Senna Alonso and even to a certain extent Vettel in the Torro Rosso. And to those who know Daniel has been in that league in junior formula.
    Hopefully we’ll see him in a good car soon. Remember in winter testing he was quickest by a far range and there were some very good people at those tests.

  23. CJD says:

    I’d hate to see Liuzzi replaced at this point, as he’s the only way to measure Ricciardo.
    As an aussie fan I was glued to the bottom of the live timing screen for a change.

    (Off Topic)
    James, Do you know anything about a James Hunt movie called Rush to be made by Ron Howard? I recently read that Chris Hemsworth(Thor) is to play Hunt.

    Also James Hunt related,

    This is more of a plea,
    I can’t think on anyone better or more accessible to ask than yourself James.

    Last year, itv aired a Doco called ‘When Playboys Ruled The World’, about James Hunt and Barry Sheene. I thought it might have made it’s way to the Ten Network in Australia by now, especially as Barry was a Ten commentator(and a great one) for years.
    Any chance of you having a word to your contacts at itv and Ten?
    I can’t tell you how much I, and I’m sure many others would appreciate it.
    I have a brother in England but he forgot to record it for me.

    p.s. Enjoyed your Bernie interview on RPM last week.When it finished, Craig Baird said “don’t ever ask me to interview him…the guy scares me”.

    1. CJD says:

      OF anyone (obviously)

    2. James Allen says:

      LOL! Thanks for that. Yes Ron Howard was at SIlverstone last week. You never know with films whether they’ll get made or not. Certainly it’s in development, if not yet in production. I think the success of Senna at the box office will give film companies the confidence to try more racing films, but Bernie is still very suspicious (rightly) of them

      1. Alistair Blevins says:

        Bernie is quite right too.

        Lest we forget Sylvester Stallone’s ‘Driven’ – which was due to be set in the world of F1 before being switched to Indycar.

        Makes me shiver just thinking about it.

        Problem is, being in South Africa, we haven’t been afforded the opportunity to see Senna on the big screen.

        I have to get my celluloid racing-fix watching endless repeats of ‘Grand Prix’ on TCM. Which is no bad thing.

      2. Scuderia Missile says:

        Ah yes, but wouldn’t Talledega Nights have been even better if it was F1?

        Shake n bake!

      3. Alistair Blevins says:

        Good point. Well put. Lest we forget however that Sacha Baron Cohen’s character was from the world of ‘Formule Uuuunnnnnn’.

        I’d love to see a comedy take on F1… although it does a pretty good job of that without Hollywood’s intervention sometimes!

    3. Williams4ever says:

      That proposed movie is a bio-pic on Niki Lauda, whose miraculous after horrific accident got me hooked on F1.

  24. Mark says:

    Its also worth keeping a few other points in mind when evaluating his performance. The nature of the track was probably the worst it could have been for HRT (alongside Catalunya) this would have contributed to eating his tyres.
    Learning to manage the stints and balance of the car, combined with a track that is not so demanding on the cars aero, and nice dry conditions will see him a lot closer to Liuzzi.
    Give him 4 or 5 races and I think he will be pretty close to Liuzzi’s race pace. Over a single lap hes probably already got a slight edge.

  25. Steve JR says:

    Why is Hispania trying out so many drivers? It all seems rather fickle. How can they get meaningful statistics from which to baseline the evolution of the car when the driver line up is in a perpetual state of flux?

    There must be more to it?

    1. Richard says:

      $$$$$$$. Plain and simple

    2. Williams4ever says:

      Why else do that they have those “This could be you” and “Cool spot” stickers on that car ??

    3. Money!!!

      Liuzzi isn’t bringing much money (or any?), so all he is able to contribute is good finishes and technical input.

      …but good finishes only pay off at the end of the year, whereas a driver with a healthy cheque can pay off debts now.

      Short term gain, or long term gain? Seems like HRT is considering the short term to be more important at the moment, and they’ll deal with the long term later.

  26. Pandabater says:

    We saw a couple of interviews with Daniel over the weekend here in OZ & there are differences between being a Friday Driver & a full time driver. The one that surprised me was he had never driven on the softer tyre. Qualifying procedure to learn, lots of things,steering wheel controls, pit stops, even the start procedure would be new, warming tyres & brakes etc. Not as easy as jumping in & giving it berries. A good, solid debut IMO.

    1. James Allen says:

      I know, I did the interviews!

  27. dubdub says:

    Totally know what you’re saying James.
    I’ve raced in a number of endurance races in Class C cars, where the fastest cars scream past you.
    You learn pretty quickly there is a way to let them through without slowing down too much. It can ruin your race otherwise.

    1. Same here… my first car race was in a 130hp Toyota MR2, with Corvettes and Porsche GT3′s on the track at the same time. Their lap-times were 15 seconds quicker (1m30 compared to my 1m45)! Certainly teaches you to watch your mirrors like a hawk.

  28. bmg says:

    It will make him or break him. I hope he is successful.

  29. Stevie P says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… (please) get rid of the blue flags!!!

    Let’s see the fast guys fight their way past when lapping the slow guys. They can even use their DRS these days, so the job’s even easier.

    As for HRT, Narain was way, way, way back in all races so far. Blatantly obvious that he was paying for his drive and not cutting the mustard in terms of race performance…

    1. DaveF says:

      I agree, it is too easy these days for the leaders to make their way through the pack. I remember back in 1988 (or was it 98) when McLaren won 15 out of 16 races. It would have been 16 if a backmarker had not taken Senna out as he tried to overtake. Whilst not ideal for the drivers (and they’d need to ensure safety) it did make races more interesting. It used to be a skill for leading drivers to cut through the pack and gave opportunities for overtaking when they were held up. Anyone else remember Mansell overtaking Senna in Hungary whilst Senna was taking a backmarker?

      Of course having ridiculously slow mobile chicanes like HRT would need to be taken care of.

    2. Williams4ever says:

      way way back as in 25 seconds ahead of his team mate with five laps to go in China? when his team decides to leave him on dead tyres (on one stop strategy)for his team mate to overtake him on fresher tyres??

      Watching races with Time tracker gives one data that makes wonder, why teams mess up with one of their drivers, especially given that its that driver’s sponsors that are paying the teams bills.

      Pundits don’t have time to explain this aspect of F1 to the lay fans…

      1. Scuderia Missile says:

        How long would it have taken to pit and put new tyres on in China?

      2. Williams4Ever says:

        How long would it have taken to pit and put new tyres on in China?
        >> And he still would have been ahead by 6 seconds after that pitstop. So the quandary is lay fans don’t dig deep enough into data and make very superficial comments(most of the times quoting pundits view on the matter) and pundits don’t enlighten the fans appropriately….

      3. Stevie P says:

        Are you calling me a lay fan? Aaaah-ha, now that’s hilarious!

        Perhaps I should have put the word “generally” in the sentence “way, way, way back” to allow for Narain’s China GP exception? Or perhaps I should have put “My perception is…” in front of it all? Chill Williams4Ever, the proof of the pudding is that Narain’s no longer in the car (India excepted – or so we’re told).

        I have nothing against Narain… he’s just not good enough! [Sorry... I forgot to say that, that's in my own humble opinion :-)]

  30. DaveF says:

    I think the lack of testing and the bottom teams usually picking drivers for money rather than talent is having a detrimental effect on the quality of F1 and makes me worry for the future. Only a small amount of true talent is able to get through with most of the field now made up of under funded and poorly performing teams who will likely never improve due to taking pay drivers who are not able to extract the maximum from the car (never mind actually develop it).

    As for Ricciardo I think it is too early to tell. Being stuck in a poor car with the changeable conditions did not help him at all. He does need to get the measure of his team mate quickly though or he will soon be forgotten.

  31. Guy Hancock says:

    Can someone (i.e. you please, James) explain why backmarkers should move over to be lapped? Before you all go crazy at me, I know the rules say so, but what I’m getting at is this:
    - all the cars are still racing;
    - if someone is trying to overtake you it is affecting your position;
    - if the leading cars are so good and fast they should be able to overtake the tailenders easily.

    So why penalize backmarkers by forcing them out of the way? If the leaders are so good make them overtake backmarkers just like any other car. The blue flag rule is difficult to manage and implement, so just drop it.

    And before someone says “but this is what cost Alonso the title” that’s is exactly my point (though we aren’t talking about a back marker in that case and there weren’t any blue flags). If he couldn’t overtake that’s his problem.

    Next time Vettel/Webber/Alonso/Hamilton etc come up behind an HRT/Virgin/Lotus etc why shouldn’t they just have to overtake them just like any other car?

  32. forzaminardi says:

    I think they made a mistake when they introduced the rule obliging backmarkers to move over and make it easy for the leaders to pass. Sure, no one wants to see the front runners excessively held up, but it used to be the case that lapping traffic was part of the racer’s art. Now they just cruise up behind and expect the slower car to get out of the way. The onus should be on the leading cars to overtake, not on the backmarker to pull over.

  33. Williams4ever says:

    Looks like my comment has generated lots of discussion/responses on the forum. Thanks everyone for taking time out to respond to my post. It seems everyone is missing the point I made here. And My point was how come none of the pundits think it was important for the lay fans to understand what it is to drive as a backmarker and why one can’t simply step on the brakes immediately after you have lead lap driver in your mirrors. How comes article like this was not published in defense of Heikki, Trulli, Glock, Di Grassi, Bruno Senna or Jérôme d’Ambrosio.

    Ricciardo had to undergo and will undergo till he drives for HRT same plight that all the drivers for Lotus, Virgin, HRT have suffered last two years,

    I used Narain/Liuzzi since they are the other drivers in the team that Ricciardo drives, it could have been any of the back marker drivers I have listed above.

    @ Rob – Does Liuzzi/Narain being an “Old Hat” means they should be thrown under the bus it doesn’t matter if media/F1 pundits don’t give them fair coverage?

    @ Mitchell – Does Sir William’s approval of Ricciardo makes him eligible for special treatment by press?

    @Hisham Akhtar – The point is not about Narain Karthikeyan –Vs – Montiero and the 2005 season. The point is bias in reporting and positive coverage given to similar pedestrian performance (in a pedestrian car) of an English speaking driver.

    @ All – Everybody who is claiming about positive press given to Kobayashi, Maldanado, and Perez. Looks like we are having a public memory syndrome (short memory) syndrome here. Every forum and media channel (English speaking) had their fair share of stab at Maldanado and his being in F1 was only due to monies he is bringing from questionable source. Perez was also associate with Maldanado and his connection with Mexican Billionaire.
    Kobayashi was lucky (like Rosberg) since he had a good debut in strong mid-field car of Toyota. That strong debut saw him through the early part of 2010 season when his new team Sauber was clearly struggling due to lack of funds and direction. The murmur campaign questioning his presence on grid was gaining strength, just when James Key moved to Sauber and team started making progress since Valencia’10, that last lap pass on Alonso on fresh tyres stopped the murmur campaign.

    @James – I understand this is blog site what is always called as “Journal of Opinion”. But the lay fans look at blogs like this as a source of authentic information and your views are accepted verbatim by lay fans given your stature of having all access to F1 internal workings. If this was a blog of a f1 fan who had no access to inner workings of F1, I would have just passed it off as “Journal of Opinion” and wouldn’t have bothered to make my point.

    Thanks again for all your feedback and comments.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think its fair to say that if it takes three attempts to get your point across then it’s not really working. I don’t like discussion about bias because the discussions tend to be biased and very dull in themselves. We let this one through because there were some worthwhile reactions, but we won’t be making a habit of this kind of discussion.

  34. Alex W says:

    The guy had never driven the car before Friday, I think he did very well against an underrated teammate, he will be judged in later GP’s

  35. David Goss says:

    I do think Ricciardo has been covered a little bit much, not on this site where James’s coverage is very broad, but the BBC do seem to talk about him a lot. They seem to get a bit overexcited when there is a whiff of someone who might be good, like when Sergio Perez had a decent first race this season, they wouldn’t stop talking about Sergio Perez for a couple of weeks afterwards.

    I think it’s a bit unfair on Ricciardo because he’s been hyped up by the coverage so it puts him under a lot of pressure to be amazing straight away, also people may start to become sick of hearing about him through no fault of his own.

    I agree that HRT seem to swap their drivers around a lot, they seem quite an unsettled operation.

  36. devilsadvocate says:

    So James, is it reasonable to assume that if Ricciardo can get on level with liuzzi in not losing so much time when being lapped that he will be seriously outperforming Tonio? 4 seconds every time he gets passed is a huge deficit. Is it right to assume that if that difference is accounted for, his performance in silverstone should make Tonio a bit nervous?

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s early days. This is one handicap that they both have which drivers of faster cars do not face.

      1. Brisbane Bill says:

        Also, the 4s a lap doesn’t tell the whole story – He might actually be losing 5s by being overtaken and then driving the rest of the track 1s faster than Liuzzi, therefore doing a better job that would show up more if they were both in, say, Renaults. Unfortunately, I don’t get access to the split times during the race so this is where the TV pundits might help us understand some of these inter-team rivals a bit better.

  37. Jose - Perth says:

    Thank you very much for your explanation. Watching the race on TV I was disappointed with almost never seeing Daniel and how, from the times, it seemed he was TOO slow. Very disappointed because I also picked him up in my radar as a possible top f1 driver. What you say gives a much better understanding of what was going on during the race.
    There is one other aspect for which I thank you very much for the blog, one you possibly never thought of James, and that is that I am deaf and so interviews, commentaries, etc – nothing is subtitled inlive feeds- and I have to read it later to understand

  38. Steve JR says:

    James, I was wondering if HRT is an abbreviation of HeRTz because they’re car gets rented out to a different driver every weekend

  39. Bullish says:

    Thanks for the great explaination, I was very curious why Ricciardo had dropped so far behind.

    I would be happy if you talk more about him. I think he has a great future ahead of him.

    From the interviews I have watched it seems as though he is a very nice guy.

  40. joe radici says:

    Ricciardo is over-rated – he won the F3 title but anyone could have in that car. He’s always been in the best machinery. Even his kart record isnt noteworthy. He’s just another silverspoon-fed richkid. I know that applies to the majority of F1 drivers – but many have done noteworthy things in less than the best machinery. I suspect the hype will die off in the reality check of his performance against Liuzzi (no star himself)

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