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Is Ricciardo making a big mistake starting F1 career with Hispania?
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Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Jul 2011   |  6:29 pm GMT  |  124 comments

Just before the weekend Hispania Racing Team (HRT) confirmed that Australian Daniel Ricciardo will race for the team starting at Silverstone, in place of Narain Kartikeyan. HRT is around four seconds a lap off the pace in qualifying this season, an improvement of a second and a half over last season.

In Canada Tonio Liuzzi qualified a tenth of a second faster than Timo Glock, but in Valencia the gap was a second and in Barcelona it was half a second.

The 22 year old Red Bull sponsored driver has been doing the Toro Rosso Friday testing duties, bit it is clear that Red Bull driver mentor Dr Helmut Marko wanted to accelerate the programme with Ricciardo. It always looked tricky to find a way into the Toro Rosso race set up and when Jaime Alguersuari out in back to back career best results in the last two races, another route was needed.

Marko is close to Buemi, having backed him since childhood while Alguersuari’s father is a man of significant money and influence. I will be very interested to dig into this situation and see whether he had some hand behind the scenes in brokering for the Spanish owned HRT team to take Ricciardo. I suspect not, but you never know.

Ricciardo doesn’t seem to have had much to do with the process, only finding out shortly before the announcement that this was his next career move. He is going to continue with his season of World Series by Renault in parallel, which is a real tester for him.

Certainly to go by what HRT owner Jose Ramon Carabante said, he is hoping there could be more to come in terms of helping Red Bull develop drivers. They already have Toro Rosso for that, of course.

“This agreement is a reward for all the hard work Hispania Racing has shown since we started in Formula One last year,” Carabante said. “We’re proud that the Formula One world champion team has trusted us in their effort of developing their drivers. Let’s hope that this is just the start of a fruitful relationship.”

Hispania is undergoing some change at the moment. The team has been acquired by Thesan Capital, a Spanish investment firm, which has taken on Carabante’s stake. There have been suggestions that Dr Colin Kolles may be moving on from his role as team leader.

Carabante appeared to be one of those F1 team owners who underestimated the cost involved in taking the team on. HRT has the smallest budget of all the F1 teams.

So the question is, is Ricciardo making a terrible mistake in jumping at the first F1 race seat that comes his way?

Will this opportunity be a good thing for the Australian, or will it create a bad impression to see a young driver who’s tipped for the top being lapped three times as the HRTs were in Valencia, setting a fastest lap some six seconds slower than the race winning Red Bull car. Silverstone always shows up a bad car and although he knows it well from his British F3 winning season, he will be looking in his mirrors as much as at the track ahead.

On the upside Ricciardo will get some F1 race experience and will have a good benchmark against Tonio Liuzzi, whom some F1 observers rate pretty highly. At Force India he was not as strong as Adrian Sutil, who is now struggling to beat Paul di Resta.

Not every promising young driver can start in a race winning car, as Lewis Hamilton did, for example in 2007. Fernando Alonso started in a Minardi in 2001, doing a full season in the back of the grid team. He started dead last at Silverstone that year, qualifying over four seconds off the pole time. In the race he was lapped three times. But he always says that year was a great learning year out of the spotlight. I remember many occasions that year being impressed with the speed the Minardi was being driven with and he certainly did enough to earn his move through the ranks with Renault. Flavio Briatore was steering that process, as Marko is with Ricciardo.

In this respect it was similar to Ayrton Senna’s first F1 season with Toleman in 1984.

So it can work out, but it’s crucial to do what both Senna and Alonso did in their apprentice season and stand out in a poor car. We will quickly see what Ricciardo is made of and he will have 10 races (it is thought Karthikeyan will race in India) to make his mark before Marko makes a decision on the next step for him.

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124 Comments
  1. ed24f1 says:

    My first instinct was that this was a mistake, but I think that he didn’t really have a choice. I think that his raw speed is excellent, but there are some doubts over his racecraft. Now that Buemi and Alguersuari are improving, this was the next best option to see if, maybe, Ricciardo, isn’t even as good as those two.

    With Jean-Eric Vergne rising the ranks very quickly, Ricciardo will have to beat Liuzzi if he wants a F1 future with Red Bull/Toro Rosso I think.

    I was talking to a friend yesterday who is a casual F1 fan, and he was saying how maybe he could qualify 12th or 15th and it would be fantastic. Of course, his car’s maximum potential is 21st at best, realistically. So I fear that he may not build much home support, especially as Webber is in the best car.

    1. mia says:

      I agree with u. It’s tough for him that driving F1 is just something you can’t reject no matter how crap the team is. By the way, Dr. Marko needs to know not everyone is Vettel…

      1. Dave C says:

        Of course he’s no Vettel but starting in a Hispania isn’t a bad idea now all he needs to do is blow away Liuzzi if that’s who he’s racing! Alonso started his f1 racing career in a Minardi and was a clear stand out, he even beat the Bennetons that year which was obviously a faster car and also Jenson was driving that car which showed Alonso is an all time great and he proved that in the slowest car, this is a good chance for Ricciado, if he could beat the Virgins a big team will take him surely, maybe Williams.

      2. jez says:

        Now that the team has changed hands again who really knows… Press reports claim Thesan Investments (spain) have taken over, whilst others that the state the Japanese bank Nomura have taken control of the shares pledged against a loan.

      3. Randy Torres says:

        Thesan CAPITAL (not Investments) has acquired a controlling interest in HRT. Thesan set up an equity fund with backing from Nomura to invest in undervalued opportunities in the Spanish market. That’s the Nomura connection. I’m not clear how HRT fits into the designation of an ” undervalued opportunity”. Undervalued, or perhaps undefunded, yes, but opportunity? Methinks that’s a stretch. But then again, bulls & bears, isn’t that what moves markets. Good luck to them it would be nice to see a non-British team based somewhere other than England for a change.

      4. jez says:

        Randy,

        HRT already was a non British team based somewhere other than England.

        If it is in fact true that Kolles will no longer be involved in the team, I wonder how the team will continue to operate> Will they have an agreement to continue using Kolles factory and contracted personel…

      5. Randy Torres says:

        @jez your guess is as good as mine! I would just like the team stabilized and operating in a racing and commercially correct manner. I think that would be good for F1. I would also like to see a US team, given the US Grand Prix next year, not because I’m American (I’m actually Puerto Rican), but again because I think it would be good for F1.To me the best option of all would have been a NYC based street circuit! That would have been way awesome. I don’t know what happened to that initiative…money I assume. Pity.

    2. Mark J says:

      I saw Ricciardo at Monza this year in WSR and he started from the back of the grid in the first race and made it to 5th without any dramas. In the second he had a huge battle with Vergne that was very close for a 1-2. I again saw him in Monaco and drove a good race under pressure from Wickens. For me I think it may be more consistency he has occasional down moments like in Hungary this weekend where he put into the wall on the warm up and finsihed 12th in the second race.

      Both Red Bull Junior drivers Ricciardo and Vergne look mighty impressive overall though and I think one of them deserve the second seat in the main team for the future.

    3. Fozzy says:

      I am not sure…i think it could be a good idea. Yes HRT are a terrible team but they are still an F1 team.

      As JA said some of the greats have started in terrible teams and dont forget Webber started in a Minardi, and due to a massive crash and luck managed to finish 5th in Melbourne. This was a huge result and Webber became a big name in Australia where F1 is lucky to get a mention in the news.

      For Daniel as long as he grabs the opportunity with both hands and does not make too many mistakes then next year there might be some other teams who are looking for an up and coming driver.

      Besides Toro Rosso i reckon he could have a chance with Renault, Force India or even Williams.

    4. unoc12 says:

      Mostly agree. I think Ricciardo is better than Buemi and Alguasuarie when they first started, but amazingly enough now that those two have 2 years and a year and a half respectively under their belts racing in F1 cars and are fighting to stay in F1 they have raised their game.

      While I would have prefered to see Ricciardo start in a Torro Rosso because then points etc.. would be possible, I don’t think he has much choice.

      True, Vergne is rising quickly, but I think that is a complete red herring. It might be as simple as…

      —Start of 2011—
      Red Bull guy 1: We have several drivers about to hit f1, can we please give them a seat.
      Red Bull guy 2: We have none!
      1: Well then lets make the STR drivers fight for it, if one fials to score 75% of the points of the other by mid season break then they are replaced
      2: Brilliant!

      —Recently—
      2: sooo.. nice idea
      1: Ok, their equal on points, about as close and Hamilton and Alonso in 200..
      2: Let’s not start that again
      1: Solution, we have money, HRT need money, let’s speak see if we can get a seat for him there to see what is happening. If one of the STR drivers fails later in the year its a direct swap while he has learnt F1-ish machinery.
      2: Good job number 1
      1: Thanks number 2

      —scene—

      I don’t think, Ricciardo, if he actually wanted to get into F1 would be able to say ‘no’ to the seat and stay in the program. And the program is his best bet. Otherwise he is competing with others whom he doesnt have to in Red Bull Junior Program.

      He will probably be dead last while getting used to it, then best being 22nd, or 21st if Timo forgets to turn up to work. And his best finishing position will be presuming we see more races were everyone finsihes… about 21st or so.

      And we will see lots of ‘well Vettel scored pole in a torro rosso, how come ricciardo didn’t’…. but that’s more for forums….

      1. Grayzee (Australia) says:

        hahaha ….that’s well said B1!
        this whole F1 business is a bit like a Bananas episode sometimes………..

    5. Mike says:

      For an Australian f1 fan I cant wait to see Daniel in the big show. Especially as Webber is unfortunately struggling to get anywhere near Sebastian this year. Gives us something to cheer and honestly if he cant beat Liuzzi (competent as he is) he’s not worth the hype.

    6. Wayne says:

      It’s a mistake. Not so much because it’s a back-end team but because its HRT. Driver’s can progress from backmarkers to WDC (I too thought of Alonso’s first season when I read the headline). However, I do not believe that HRT should even be on the grid. They bring literally nothing to F1 but they take in terms of their grid slots. They have turned up at the start of their first and SECOND seasons completely unprepared which is an F1 travesty and not to mention dangerous – how can it be safe to do your primary testing at the first GP? Why was it even allowed? They confuse by swapping their drivers all over the place and even between races – as if F1 is not complicated enough for new viewers with the rules changing between races (“Hero Replacement Therapy”, I think they call it .

      In the interests of F1, HRT should have their entry license revoked and a more deserving team given the chance. I recall the list of suitors; Moseley’s decision about who to award these new entries to always baffled me.

      1. gaz909 says:

        Agreed! If it was a move to Team Lotus it would be taken more seriously. It’s not because HRT are backmarkers, it’s because they are a joke.

  2. Paul D says:

    Yes.

    1. Nadeem says:

      With such limited time in the car any race seat is better than none. It will give him good experience for next year (most likley at STR. His aim would be to beat his team mate in quali and race and finishes races. Where he finishes who knows with HRT. No doubt he can do it.

      Great to have 2 Aussies on the grid.

  3. rfs says:

    Well, all he can do is try to beat Liuzzi. If a wet-behind-the-ears rookie like Ricciardo manages to beat Liuzzi with this mangy dog of a car, then he’ll be golden.

    1. Exactly my thought; although I may add beating the Virgin car of d’Ambrosio would also be a must if Ricciardo wants to impress.

      Glock will be out of touch if the Marussia Virgin is reliable enough.

      It is worth remebering though that Fisichella was able to be faster than his team mate with an average car but was no match for Alonso in a title winning car.

      Let’s see how Daniel goes.
      With Webber in the spotlight, he shouldn’t feel to much home pressure, unless people like Mr Allen interviews him for OneHD at every race. :-)

      1. dr mac says:

        Mate Mr Allen should interview “dan the man”for one hd at every opportunity then all mainstream media might take a bit more notice of the fact that our country has two drivers in 24 in the ultimate championship in the world “reach for the sky Dan the man”

      2. Agreed mate. More Aussies should watch F1. 350,000 viewers is a tiny percentage (about 2%)of the population compared to the UK or France.

        Might be due to the fact the country folks have to watch it delayed on Ten. Remember those days when you have to stay up until 2am?
        Even my mate who lives in Bathurst (the mecca of Australian motorsport) still don’t get OneHD coverage.

        Now, as far as Ricciardo is concerned, as much as I’d like the world to know that 1/12th of the grid is Aussie, he probably doesn’t need the pressure right now if he is to focus on both F1 and WSR.

  4. Pete S. says:

    When i read your article headline, i immediately thought of Alonso starting in the Minardi (as you later wrote about in the article).
    So, yeah, i would jump at the opportunity to show my talent in any F1 car. The sooner, the better.

    1. **Paul** says:

      Likewise. There are very very few F1 drivers who’ve stepped into winning F1 cars straight away, Hamilton, Villenueve (although JV was well proven as CART champion) and er… that’s about it?
      Most of the guys in good cars now started in far lesser ones and worked their way up based on their results:

      Alonso: Minardi
      Massa: Sauber
      Webber: Minardi
      Vettel: Torro Rosso
      Rosberg: Williams
      Schumacher: Jordan

      If we look at some well respected retired drivers the same pattern is shown;
      Hakkinen: Lotus
      Senna: Toleman
      Prost: McLaren(before they were good)
      Berger: ATS
      Hill: Brabham
      Patrese: Shadow Racing Team
      Mansell: Lotus

      Thus history suggests that starting in a very poor or average car is no bad thing.

      It also shows what a priviledged time in F1 someone like Hamilton has had. I wonder how many Championships Senna, Hakkinen or even Schumacher would have taken had they jumped straight into a car which is pretty much always fastest or second fastest?

      1. Bad Dawg says:

        People keep on forgetting to mention that the 2007/2008 Torro Rosso team were much more competitive than they are at the moment – the 2008 STR3 had a very similar chassis to the Red Bull RB4 and was a competitive car. Vettel technically made his debut with BMW-Sauber, not STR.

        I would also identify Kovalainen as an example – he started in the world champion Renault team and moved to McLaren the following year but had limited success following his impressive rookie year. It doesn’t matter where the driver starts if you ask me, a good driver will impress either way.

      2. bogaaaa says:

        interesting point about Lewis starting in a winning car…..l seem to remember DC,Button and Hill doing the same……anyone see a pattern here? Brits leg up Brits…l am sure if button DC and Hill had of started in Minardi’s they would of been around for a season or 2 disappeared, maybe not lewis.
        Huge advantage being a Brit in F1,, Bigger advantage being English…..

  5. James D says:

    Maybe it’s a mistake for him to start his career in such an uncompetitive car, but does he have much choice being in the Red Bull young driver scheme? As you say this seems their decision rather than his.

    I don’t know how they (Marko) would have reacted if Ricciardo had said “I don’t want to race for HRT.”

  6. mia says:

    Hi James, is the rumor that HRT has been sold to a Japanese bank true?
    If so (esp considering rumor of Kolles joining Williams), I don’t really think the ride would do him much favor. Luizzi is not slow, and might be hard to beat. If Ricciardo fails to perform with such a trash car and an experienced teammate, his life would be tough.

    1. Garry T says:

      Their bank sold the shares to another bank in Japan probably trying to get the risk the family owes them reduced

  7. Jesus says:

    Great drivers shine no matter how fast the car is. As you pointed out, Alonso with the Minardi is the best example.

    1. Nadeem says:

      Webber started there as well.

  8. irish con says:

    how can any f1 experience be considered bad. only lewis hasnt started near the back of the grid.

    1. Cliff says:

      Not entirely true. Don’t forget Jenson Button in 2000, he started in a competitive Williams.

      1. David McVey says:

        The 2000 Williams was only really a midfield contender and occasionally punched above its weight.

      2. Cliff says:

        In 2000 the victories were shared between Ferrari and Mclaren. Williams finished best (3rd) of the rest in the WCC. Ralf Schumacher and Button taking 5th & 8th respectively. I will however concede that it was a distant third.

      3. Bad Dawg says:

        Vettel didn’t start near the back of the grid either.

    2. Alan says:

      “Only Lewis” !

      How long have you been watching F1 ?!

  9. Allan R says:

    Its never a mistake to get race experience. 10 races at the back of the field to learn some race craft going against his team mate and the virgins. You never know a really wet race could do a surprise (Vettel at Monza!!!)

    My question is though what is happening to the TATA money that got Narain the drive in the first place – are Red Bull paying more?

  10. Dave Aston says:

    I think it’s an astute move from Red Bull, and it makes me think he may bypass Torro Rosso and wind up in Webber’s seat next year. I don’t think Alguersuari and Buemi, fine racing drivers though they are, have done quite enough to warrant a top drive. Perhaps Marko has real belief Ricciardo could do the job, and is keen to see how he deals with the process of a race weekend, with Liuzzi’s times as a benchmark. Alternatively, he’s going to the B Team, but they’re not sure which Torro Rosso driver will be giving way, especially after Alguersuari’s fine drive at Valencia. Either way, I think it’s a good move, and it reminds me how motor racing, unlike many other sports, doesn’t see too much movement among the seats, especially in top teams, when a driver is out of form. Go to the bench!

    1. robert d says:

      im with you ..i cant see why rbr would put one off the tororosso drivers in webbers seat(if he moves) when they have been under sooooo much pressure from daniel to perform.

    2. jez says:

      If Ricciardo crushes Luizzi a few times, this might become a possibility. Fantastic just to think about!

  11. I don’t really see this as a mistake. What this allows Ricciardo to do is gain more F1 race mileage under his belt, than otherwise he would have just doing Friday test drives with STR.

    He doesn’t have to straight go out and beat Tonio, although he’d like to. But as long as he doesn’t stuff the car doing something fundamentally stupid, he should be just fine. He’s still a RedBull sponsored driver, just driving in different colors.

    Think about it like an extended test session for a rookie driver. (Plus HRT will like all of the extra $$$ that will be coming from Red Bull)

  12. Q says:

    His times wont be compared to the leading teams but with his team-mate and the Virgins. I’m pretty sure anyone who is anyone will see through the laptimes

  13. Galapago555 says:

    Slightly off topic, James, there are rumours on Spanish media (Javier G. Matallanas @AS.com) that Carabante has sold HRT to a Japanese Company backed by some Nomura Bank due to his financial difficulties. An estimate of €24M is supposed to be the price. Do you have any info about this?

    1. James Allen says:

      I’ll look into it with my Spanish colleagues

  14. Rang says:

    James, looking at a more bigger picture leaving Ricardo and Red Bull aside, is it not a step backwards for f1 which just about to start racing in India. Being from India, I can surely tell you, without a Indian driver in limelight, the sport may never take off..btw…Naraen is said has the fastest Indian for a very long time and people know him lot more than Karun.

    1. Narain will drive for HRT in India…

      1. jez says:

        F1 won’t take off in India, without an Indian driver -even though they have an Indian Team and Indian GP?

        Luckily not all countries think this way!

    2. Kedar says:

      I disagree with you Rang. I am also from India and have followed F1 with my friends passionately for over 15 years. It has been the most popular sport after cricket for atleast half a decade.

  15. GP says:

    I don’t think there is a risk. Of course, he is going to have to deliver against his team mate but it would be the same with a faster team.

    It could be a mistake if he was on his own, but having the backing of Red Bull it only confirms that Marko and Co. rate him so highly that they have decided to speed up his accession to F1.

    I think this is a good one…

  16. Maximum Attack says:

    Fortune cookie says: He who climb ladder begins with first rung.

  17. Daniel Dinu says:

    It is not a mistake, as nobody expects of him to be faster than the established teams. What it is expcted of his is to match and sometimes be better than Lizzi, who is a “known quantity”. In two or three races we should get a better idea of what he is made of. By the end of the season we would know if the boy can make it, or if he wil fade away, like many others that tried this route. It is good that he has the money back-up from Red Bull, but he has to proove that the speed is there. Even flashes of speed be enough.

  18. Will Campbell says:

    Well, it’s a mistake if it’s the media and fans that he needs to impress. As much as fans know about the sport, we can’t really get away from the bad car = bad driver mentality.

    As it is though, Red Bull have presumably already decided that Ricciardo is the real deal but that they also need to give him seat time. In which case the quality of the car is totally irrelevant.

  19. This has to be a positive move for the young Aussie.

    There are lots of judgements that can be made of a young driver when he’s actually on the grid at every race : from setting up the car to how he handles the PR duties, every single minute of the race weekend is an important assessment opportunity for a prospective employer.

    It doesn’t really matter how the HRT performs : Tony Liuzzi is a known quantity so others will have a benchmark to judge his performance by.

    And if Daniel gets a wet race or two he may well have an opportunity to shine.

    I’ll be watching his progress with great interest.

  20. Rich C says:

    So… how many drivers and teams does RB control now? Is this going to be their “C” Team?

    1. Richard D says:

      And Mclaren’s C team is now Virgin.

  21. Bas says:

    When Alonso drove the Minardi that car also was nothing but he still managed to make a difference. I think it’s doable to make yourself noticted in an HRT.

  22. Micheal Breen says:

    You have to take the opportunity don’t you? No matter how slow the car is. No matter how poor the car or chaotic a back of the grid team is; it offers a young driver a chance to benchmark themselves against a teammate in the real life world F1. Liuzzi is not the worst driver on the grid and if Ricciardio can best him this year he could move on to better things for 2013.

  23. goferet says:

    Starting your F1 career in a car that’s dead last on the grid is the best thing that can happen to any rookie for incase you under perform or make any mistake, the driver can always blame the car & the arm chair specialist will always sweep such performances under the carpet saying the car is rubbish anyway

    And best of all, the driver is out of the spotlight & isn’t fighting for points or wins so he can go about his business quietly.

    Now the worst case scenario & potentially confidence destroying move is to plant a rookie in a top team or mid filed car for if the driver doesn’t perform then, his F1 career is virtually over or at least takes a backward step, case in point being Hulkenburg & Sebastian Bourdais.

    So yes, Ricciardo has made the smart move and good luck to him hopefully he will show us the true (and not fake)Aussie Grit.

  24. LBF says:

    Do we know the financial details of the Ricciardo transfer? It would have to be more appealing than the Tata deal, reading elsewhere that Narain’s contract was fully paid out…
    And who exactly got the money? I assume Carabante Sr, who sells the team the very next day.
    As Steve Miller Band put it: “Ooohh, take the money and run…”

  25. Riccciardo was racing in Formula Renault 3.5s this weekend at Hungaroring.

    Also racing was Adam Carroll, making a welcome return to racing after a long layoff making an immediate impact and scoring a well deserved 4th and 3rd over the course of the weekend.

    James,

    Just wondering what your views on Adam Carroll’s talent are? Is he the best racing driver of recent time not to make it to F1?

  26. Richard Williams says:

    I saw Colin Kolles deep in talks with Helmut Marko in the HRT area in the paddock in Montreal and wondered if he was plotting a way out of HRT to Red Bull or Torro Rosso for himself. I guess he was actually doing this deal.

  27. Omega alpha says:

    I think with the amount of money RedBull
    are spending here it would be safe to say
    they are trying to replace Mark Webber
    for when he moves to Ferrari next year.
    Like everyone else I believe that Marko
    and co must believe in him alot and feel
    this is a good test and experience.

  28. dot says:

    “Adrian Sutil, who is now struggling to beat Paul di Resta.”

    Sutil 10 points – Di Resta 2 points.

    Fact: Di Resta is struggling to beat Sutil with 5 times less points in the championship.

    The team cares more about the points in the end, how the driver drove in the race to maximize the perforamce and get the points which is the reaosn they are in the sport. Not how flashy a driver puts himself in the spotlight and media from his own country praise him as the new Senna.

  29. mael says:

    Well Dr Marko wants to get him up to speed in a hurry that’s for sure.

    Makes for an interesting situation regarding the STR & remaining RB seats.

    If Webber moves or is pushed, depending on how Ricciardo performs, it would not be the biggest surprise in the world to see him in the second RB seat.

    Whatever the outcome it looks like Helmut is covering all contingencies.

  30. Tone says:

    I’d say he’d be under more pressure to perform in a better car where a result would be a must

  31. Keith says:

    No all drivers should be made to start with back marked teams… a way of an apprenticeship if you like!

    As mentioned in the comments, Webber did it bloody tough for years and years before getting the main gig and I have no doubt it’s made him a better person.

    Look at Hamilton… he has been handed the best toys to start with and his dummy spits show this!!

    IMO this is a good learning curve for Daniel who has more natural talent than Webber, so it’s a good thing to be an Australian F1 at the moment and into the near future.

    Also, look out for Kiwi Mitch Evans on the next 5 years or so.

  32. Mike says:

    Initially I thought ..maybe not the best move. I have looked further and think that it is worth a go. He will not be bringing lots of money to an F1 seat if he gets one and at least this race can be used as 1. a benchmark for both speed relative to current team drivers; 2. how good he is at doing his own race and watching out for faster cars; and 3. he gets a line on his CV which says .. “has some F1 race experience”.

  33. Andrew Halliday says:

    At first I thought it was bad – stay away from HRT! But as you point out James, drivers such as Alonso and Webber started their F1 careers in Mindardis that were well off the pace. It’s a sink or swim situation but with a bit of the pressure taken off because nobody expects the HRT car to be any good. I’ve never liked Kartikeyan and unfortunately Liuzzi has never really shone properly so if Ricciardo can set a higher benchmark in what will still be an uncompetitive car it will highlight his talents and give him valuable experience. The main problem as far as I can see is that in Australia, a lot of people who follow F1 don’t have the same knowledge and understanding as in Europe and may not fully appreciate that Ricciardo will be driving such a dog of a car. We’ve seen it with Webber, where people are happy to moan about him and his driving when sometimes the car may be at fault and hopefully the same doesn’t happen to Ricciardo as it could tarnish his reputation in his home country before he even starts out!

  34. Greg says:

    As an Australian and keen F1/Webber fan the inclusion of Ricciardo into an F1 seat will now make the coming races twice as interesting with 2 races in one – To hopefully see Mark get it together and start challenging for the lead plus to watch Daniels progress each race – 21st, 22nd & 23rd place are his podiums.

    1. robert d says:

      could not agree with you more..

  35. Tom in Adelaide says:

    Article comments seem to be light recently. Are people having trouble posting?

    On topic – I think this is a good move. Going from Force India to HRT is a mistake. This is just a rookie taking an opportunity.

  36. Phil says:

    What do you think James? You are the F1 expert after all.
    You’re asking rhetorical questions like “So the question is, is Ricciardo making a terrible mistake in jumping at the first F1 race seat that comes his way?” and then not really stating an opinion. ‘It may be good, it may be bad’ doesn’t really count

    1. James Allen says:

      I think it’ll be okay as long as the car is reliable and at every race.

      1. Grayzee (Australia) says:

        Agreed. James, what is your take on the incredible reliability we have seen this year? As recent as last year you could rely on cars breaking down(Vettell). Is it just the technology or the maybe the restrictive rules.

  37. Jaw Jaw says:

    Liuzzi’s a better F1 driver than reports claim. Force India had him in a number two car. Daniel’s career is dependent on saying yes to whatever Marko comes up with. If the cars are as equal as Marko’s chequebook makes them and he beats Liuzzi he will ensure his first full season drive. He needs to jump both Buemi and Alguaseri by the end of his first full season drive to have a future because he is fiscally challenged on sponsor money from his home market if he had to rise through contemporary small-mid team ranks.

  38. Chris Orr says:

    No not a mistake at all. Look what a drive at then minnows Minardi did for one Fernando Alonso (3 years later he had his first world title) or championship contender Mark Webber.

    With the lack of testing miles, any f1 milage is worth its weight in gold even if at the back of the pack.

    It will make life easier for Daniel when he debuts for toro rosso in 2010.

    1. Tom in adelaide says:

      Driving a Delorian?

      1. Jack Flash says:

        DeLorien??? A 1985 vintage GMC Stainless steel coupe, gull wing doors, with a Flux-Capacitor controlled – Mr-Fusion Reactor driven, time machine in it?

        Mmmmm…. maybe not.
        “Dallara” chassis used by HRT – I think you meant? (Dallara Automobili Italy)

        Or were you making a ‘fun pun’ on purpose?
        JF

      2. jez says:

        Ah but that DeLorean was really a Lotus…

      3. KRB says:

        Yes, that DeLorean (3rd time lucky with the name) … he’ll need it for his 2010 race debut! (see first post in this thread)

        “Roads?!? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!”

  39. Rob says:

    My view is that all young drivers should do the hard yards in the backmarker teams first before they get into a McLaren (yes that would include Lewis). I hate seeing newies in good cars and oldies in bad ones.

    It’s a great move for Daniel. Remember Red Bull have an intimate knowledge of Liuzzi from his Torro Rosso days and so they have the benchmark to compare him against. He won’t be stuck in a HRT forever, now the pressure is off Jaime will go backwards again.

  40. Prisoner Monkeys says:

    I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Ricciardo has been paired with Liuzzi. In fact, I would have been very surprised if he joined the team without Liuzzi’s presence. After Sebastian Vettel, Liuzzi is probably the Red Bull Young Driver Program’s biggest success (which isn’t saying a lot, but the RBYDP has largely been a failure; too many drivers and not enough seats). Liuzzi has been doing good things in the F111, so he’s probably the man Ricciardo is going to be rated against. With both Alguersuari and Buemi making resonably good cases for staying at Toro Rosso, if Ricciardo wants one of their seats in 2012, he’s going to have to compare favourably to Liuzzi.

    1. unoc12 says:

      Why don’t you rate Buemi/Alguasuarie?

      I can’t tell you for sure who is faster or slower than them as they are teammates and only them. Buemi has also had Bourdais who Buemi was better than. And so was Vettel

      And now Buemi seems to have gone up a notch and Alguasuarie is matching him or maybe slightly better now that he finally has worked out how to drive this years car. (thank goodness there are 20 tracks on the calender next year, he needs half of them to learn the drive the car then the other half he makes up for it… frustrating!)

      So the best guess is that B/A are both about or slightly worse than Vettel. Which isn’t bad, and I’d say better an L.

      That being said, that is based off 1 bit of comparison and its hardly something to go by especially given the years.

      1. Prisoner Monkeys says:

        I don’t really rate Buemi and Alguersuari because they’re still in Toro Rosso. They may not receiving funding and support from the RBYDP anymore, but they racing for the junior team. It’s also quite difficult to separate them; Buemi is the better qualifier, but of late Alguersuari has proven to be the better racer. Short of creating some unholy hybrid of the two, it’s difficult to see who is going to come out on top at the end of the year. At the start of the season, it was believed that the poorer performer would find himself replaced by Ricciardo – but now, roughly halfway in, we find ourselves in a position where they’re fairly evenly split. Putting Ricciardo in the Hispania puts them under more pressure.

      2. unoc12 says:

        That’s my point, but you said

        “After Sebastian Vettel, Liuzzi is probably the Red Bull Young Driver Program’s biggest success”

        How are you calling L better than B and A?

        I would say that B and A could quite easily be better than L, but we don’t know, and I don’t know how you know.

  41. Alex W says:

    Good move

    Ricciardo has no choice really.

    If he is rubbish he will be gone end of season, if he blows his team mate away by half a second he will go to Red bull or Toro. He won’t ever drive for anyone else because his contracts will be water tight, he only needs to impress Red Bull, and can do that at HRT.

  42. jmv says:

    The Formula One Gods (even higher than Bernie.. the ones that make tires and engines explode) have decided to put Ricciardo on the path to HRT where a suddenly peakng Liuzzi will blitz him, and everyone will start doubting.

    With the rise of Jean-Eric Vergne all eyes will be on the Frenchman, becoming the next hottest thing. And he is amazing! F1 needs a top class F1 driver from France.

  43. Jaco says:

    You can’t compare Senna’s first season to Alonso’s first. Senna had a decent car, scoring 3 podiums and finishing in the top 10 every race he finished. Alonso had a car that was nowhere near a top-10 finish.

    1. KRB says:

      He only finished one other race aside from those podiums in the TG184! His various teammates scored a 4th in Monza, but other than that, nothing. The team ended up in 7th spot in the Constructors title. Senna also had a DNQ (his only one in F1) in the TG183B, which Toleman used for the first 4 races of the 1984 season.

      1. Jaco says:

        All I’m saying is you can’t really compare them. Senna’s car was incredibly unreliable, but capable of podium finishes. Alonso’s car wasn’t unreliable but it also wasn’t capable of top 10 finishes. All I’m saying is you can’t really compare them.

  44. The other Ian says:

    In my opinion, “Any F1 drive is better than no F1 drive”. So good luck to him.

  45. Wingers says:

    Its a tough question. I say No, because he is going to a team where he is expected to be on the back row, so the pressure is somewhat less than going straight into a Torro Rosso. I think they (RedBull) know he could and would or should take a Toro Rosso seat next season, this experience will get him race ready, understand the process, and perhaps is going to be used as justification should he massively impress to take the 2nd seat at RedBull F1, skipping Toro Rosso? For him, worst case is he doesn’t impress as expected and they put him in a GP2 seat to gain more F1 circuit experience, but I expect him to be in F1 next year, he looks like a potential F1 star in the making.

    He, along with Esteban Gutierrez in my opinion are two of the most exciting talents coming through. And that brings me to a point-in-case where I would say YES, is if Gutierrez was in Canada for the Grand Prix weekend and took Perez’s seatm (he is the 3rd driver after all for Sauber), he might have impressed us (ala Raikkonen), but had so much more to lose had he been picked and flattered to deceive in a one-off race, which was crazy to say the least, and a zero wasn’t far from a hero (ask Button how many times a safety car bailed-out his hero race, from being a probable zero points haul).

  46. Mr Squiggle says:

    Surely the relevant question here is how will anyone lift from Torro Rosso to Redbull racing?

    It seems to me that Mark Webber is filling his role perfectly. He threatens to be as quick as Vettel but can’t quite get there in 2011. He is, however, quick enough to supply the 1-2s or lock out the front row in qualifying, just what they need.

    This is the problem with any ‘ladder system’ of driver training. Unless the top of the ladder is vacated every now and then, the lower level drivers get impatient.

    1. The Talent says:

      Erm…
      Not sure which championship you’ve been watching mate, but there’s only been one Red Bull 1-2 out of 8 races thus far…

  47. KK says:

    I don’t see it as a mistake rather an attempt by Deitrich to let the kid have some F1 mileage before he replaces one of the STR lads next year or maybe putting him in the lone seat available in RB8 :P You never know but I would think the former has more of a chance than the latter.

  48. Aussie Rod says:

    HRT didn’t do much for Bruno Senna’s career.

    As an Aussie I am very keen to see Ricciardo do well.
    Fingers crossed it works out.

  49. john g says:

    better than doing the odd friday session surely. experience counts for a lot in F1, and even in the worst car, he has a lot to gain driving with and against liuzzi

    however, you’ve got to wonder if the backing from india has dried up, as it did for chandhok before.

  50. Toby says:

    James, You don’t have an open discussion page, but I was wondering what you thought of the fact that Kartikeyan has lost his seat but gets it back for the Indian GP? Also there are rumours that Chandhok may get a drive for the Indian GP.
    This strikes me as teams trying to wheel out their token Indians, or is there likely to be some form of political pressure from above (sponsors, or FIA/CVC) to demonstrate that India has a future in motorsport?
    My gut feeling is that the larger teams would never put PR above developing a car/driver, but I guess when you’re stuck at the back looking for sponsors then perhaps any publicity is good publicity?

  51. I’m glad you used Alonso’s career path as an example (I was going to mention the same thing). I’m sure if Ricciardo goes to Silverstone knowing that there is no chance of him finishing strongly, while maintaining or beating the pace of his teammate, it would already be an initial success. This opportunity should be used as a stepping stone and to show he can drive competitively, even if it’s in a slow car. I’m sure you’ll agree with me James that real talent rarely goes unnoticed in F1.

  52. Kevin says:

    Great to see Ricciardo get a drive.
    I think he’s being prepped for the main RBR squad, I been reading elsewhere that Flavio’s been seen at Ferrari a bit recently.

    1. Jaw Jaw says:

      Webber was at Mugello watching Stoner ….

  53. Runner says:

    Dear Mr. Allen,
    I’m a spanish F1 fan, and not only I’m a fan of the F1 but I also follow the World Series, the F3 and the GP2, the most important championships nowadays.
    I lived a part of my life in Canada therefore I’m half anglosaxon.
    I’m a happily surprised about the quality of your article but above all, about the quality and respect and knowledge of all the posts posted in this site.
    I’ve been following Daniel Ricciardo since his arrival at the FR 2.0 Italian in 2007.
    I have little doubts about Daniel’s ability to reach F1, but no one is going to give him anything away.
    His destiny is at his own hands.
    F1 is cruel, it has always been like that, and from Sunday in Silverstone everyone among the international media is going to assess his abilities as if he was an expert F1 driver.
    No one is going to take into account his age, and his lack of F1 races in his background.
    This will make Daniel greater if he beats his teammate Liuzzi.
    Now, I would like to talk about Jaime.
    He is a year younger than Daniel.
    And he went though, even in a more cruel form, the same situation that Daniel is going to live this coming weekend with 19 years and 3 moths, the youngest at that time of the Red Bull Junior Team, he was chosen by Horner, Tost and Helmut Marko among: Mika Makki, Daniel Ricciardo, Brendon Hartley, to debut in F1 at the Hungarian Grand Prix 2009 without a single km in F1 in his life.
    That looked like a suicide.
    Do not forget, dear friends, that Daniel will debut with 22 years not 19 and with almost 10,000 km in F1 during friday’s test.
    Jaime debuted with 19 and zero km, can you believe that??
    Why did Red Bull chose Jaime then??
    Because along with Vettel they have the best precocity records.
    In international karting he won all the spanish titles, he was always among the tope 3 in international competitions and he was the runner-up of the ICA World Championship Asia in Suzuka in 2005.
    At that same year and at the same time with 15 years old, he won his first single-seater races and the FR 1.6 Italian championship.
    With 16 years old he became the youngest at the FR 2.0 winning the winter series, winning all the races.
    With 17 years he became runner-up of the FR 2.0 Italian, and there he beat for the first time Daniel Ricciardo who finished 5th in that championship.
    With 18 years old he became the youngest champion of the British F3 in history, winning the championship in the last meeting against Oliver Turvey, Brendon Hartley and the mexican Checo Perez who is nowadays in F1.
    All of them, older than him.
    Daniel Ricciardo would win the F3 British two years later with 20 years old.
    With 19 years and 3 months, Jaime debuted at the Hungarian Grand Prix, becoming the youngest driver to debut in F1.
    Jaime nowadays after his two great performance races in Canada and Europe is the 13th best driver in the F1 championship, in front of his teammate, Sebastian Buemi who in November will turn 23 years old.
    Can you know understand why Red Bull and Dr. Marko continue to believe in Jaime.
    At the end of this season, Jaime will have disputed 47 GPs of F1, he will have almost 50.000 km and he will be only 21 year and 7 months old. Can you imagine what will be his projection with 22, 23 years old??

    1. jez says:

      Jamie needs to finish the season as #1 in the TR or his past wont mean anything and he may find himself out the door. His destiny is in his own hands.

    2. Andy C says:

      I think that is the reason he is getting a stay of execution (for want of a better expression) at TR.

      F1 is full of stories of good young drivers given the bullet before they had time to mature. Just see Romain Grosjean and others for that.

    3. John Ferdinand says:

      Alguersuari needs to go or at the very least he should be the driver moved over to HRT. He does not have the magnanimous personality and killer instinct that ultimately makes for a Red Bull driver. Ricardo is exciting to watch and is better than both of the Jr Red Bull drivers, he just needs the every race opportunity. Alguersuari could stay in the car and accumulate 300 races and he will never be any better than he is now; and I would chalk up his latest success more to the team and the situations on the track than to his overall race worthiness. It’s a shame when drivers get a chance to be in the top motor racing sport because either their daddy or some government pays their way, when clearly they do not belong in F1.

  54. David McVey says:

    Di Resta is quicker than Sutil, no question! It’s a rookie season for him so next year he’ll get the consistency up to scratch and then Sutil’s career will be over.

  55. ACB says:

    I think this is a very good step for Ricciardo, and a win-win for RBR. HRT unfortunately is a known quantity, no one expects that they will suddenly make a huge jump into the points with a change of drivers. Ricciardo will have an opportunity to get some F-1 race experience with the only expectations being the 107 percent rule and finishing the race. Red Bull gets to see what he can do with little real expense to them in terms of loss of points or position that their other drivers can deliver. I don’t see Ricciardo getting ‘stuck’ at HRT, rather I see him being moved up to STR in 2012 and driving for HRT is a good way to groom him.

  56. Philip says:

    Errr…I -am- terminally biased, but…

    …when Senna joined Toleman, he was joining a team which had just finished 9th out of the 16 different teams competing in F1 the previous year, and had managed 5 top 6 finishes in the last 4 races of that year, including two 4ths.

    Here’s what Grand Prix International said of Toleman in their season preview on 1 March ’84, before Senna had started a race with them:

    “The late arrival with the most future… It’s the rare feat indeed to make it on the F1 scene with quite the speed Toleman has: that is, to be taken seriously, to have first-rate drivers consider you, rivals rate you.”

    Does that sound like HRT to you? Or Minardi?

    Come to that, Derek Warwick, Toleman’s departing #1, was off to drive with a team who’d finished 2nd in both championships in ’83. So it wasn’t as if Senna was entering a team who were below the radar of the top teams. Again, where’s the comparison?

  57. Mario says:

    It definitely isn’t a mistake. If the boy is good as they say it will show. He will be measured against Liuzzi, not against Vettel, that’s a good thing.

    If he manages to place that HRT one or two places higher up the grid than it should be then we’ll know.

  58. fatbloke says:

    yeah seems like a good idea to me all experience helps in the long run.

    just a side thought tho, maybe RBR would like to see what he can do because they come the end of season they could have a big decision to make, Webbo, Riciardo or Hamilton?

    1. Darren says:

      I think if thay was their choice they would take Hamilton. It’d be a superstar line up.

      Otherwise Webber is safe. Buemi and Alguesari haven’t shown enough to prove they’d be better than Webber and they won’t put a rookie in the main team. That’s what TR is for.

  59. Darren says:

    If he’s as good as many think (me included) then he’ll make the best of the opportunity and it’ll work out.

    He’ll be forgiven some mistakes and if he can put in a couple of really good performances it’ll be enough to confirm his potential for RB any other teams further up the grid.

  60. JohnBt says:

    Better to have a drive than just being a test driver, even though it’s not a fantastic team. There’s so many hungry drivers out there waiting to pounce at at any chance given to them in F1.

    Now he has to beat his team mate Liuzzi as proof. That’ll be a good start for Ricciardo.

  61. Matty says:

    Id feel pumped to drive a HRT.

  62. Andy C says:

    Daniel is a rising star of the Redbull driver programme, so I cant imagine for a minute hes really jeopardising his chances for next year by driving for HRT.

    Lets be honest, what other opportunity is there to get laps these days for young drivers. I think it will be good conditioning for him to get laps under his belt and be decent prep for a pre season.

    He needs to convincingly beat Liuzzi first though.

  63. Grabyrdy says:

    No-brainer. Young drivers are thrown in these days and it’s sink or swim. He’s got a chance to get lots of stuff on board on the quiet. There’s a decent benchmark to compare himself with and no pressure. And in a GP weekend there’s still plenty of chance to show what he can do.

  64. PeteM says:

    Daniels steering will do the talking however having said that I personally dont beleive it is the right move just yet.
    I also dont beleive the the TR duo are out of the woods as yet. A bit of pressure especially on Alguersuari and he doesnt travel to well. What happens if he does get removed from the team, will Daniel get a run with TR or he is contracted to HRT, which will mean maybe someone else will get the chance and Daniel misses out.
    Nothing worse than a one hit wonder in F1 you need consistancy and the TR boys dont have that. Money sometimes or most times in F1 decides the fate of too many. Do we see the best F1 drivers in the world I think not.
    Time will tell all he can do for now is beat his team mate and that in itself may take a bit of time as he has to get used to team and car and that in itself may appear to show he is not ready or capable as yet.
    I think there is definately more cons than pros in this move unfortunately.

  65. Everyone seems to be looking at this from Ricciardo’s perspective. What about Toro Rosso? Right now they have two drivers that occasionally score points for them. Should they throw that away on a driver that has not even done a single F1 race yet?

    My interpretation of Ricciardo to HRT is that Toro Rosso realized that shoving a rookie into a team with very little testing is a recipe for a lot of bad finishes with no points. Remember how long it took Alguersuari to start scoring points? While Toro Rosso is a Red Bull junior team, it is still an F1 team, and they have the Constructors Championship to worry about.

    I think they are putting him in an HRT to get a bit of experience with the starts, feel what it’s like to rush into the first corner in F1, get to know the styles of some other drivers, get more experience talking with engineers, maybe even humble him a little bit, and then after he had four or five races under his belt and he has enough experience to score points in the right car, bring him across to Toro Rosso.

    There’s no point in rushing him into Toro Rosso so he can get a bunch of 18th place finishes. Given that the TV money each team gets paid relies on where you finish in the Constructors Championship, it pays to keep some adequately-performing talent in the car while assessing unproven talent elsewhere.

  66. Ryan Eckford says:

    It is a big mistake for Ricciardo if it does not work out. I have had a look at the records of Vettel and Liuzzi when they were together at Toro Rosso for the last 7 races of the 2007 season, and it tells an interesting tale. On average, Liuzzi’s fastest lap of the weekend in dry conditions was just over a tenth quicker than Vettel’s fastest lap. This disproves the theory that Vettel is the fastest driver in Formula 1, but also it proves the theory that Vettel is driving in by far the fastest car in F1 at the moment.

    If Ricciardo can beat Liuzzi on pace by a fair way, he should be safe in F1 for many years to come.

  67. Adrian Newey Jr says:

    James – I think the criticism should be looked at compared to their main competitors. Given their lack of funds and the (disputed) quality of their drivers, as a team they appear to have performed miracles. I think the real dogs of the season are Virgin. Their driver pairing is rated significantly better, yet they are starting to get beated by a supposedly inferior team. Full credit to Kolles!

    As for Daniel driving for HRT, is there any likelihood of Toro Rosso being sold and RB moving to a pay/drive system? Buying seats from season to season could be cheaper than running their own team. For example, they could have placed drivers with a number of teams this season, including Williams, Sauber, Lotus/Renault and possibly Force India. Given that TR is supposed to be an independent team and that they don’t share the platform or engine, having a second team doesn’t make sense anymore.

  68. JEVthebest says:

    Hi, im French and i have to say that Vergne(13 wins in Brtish formula 3 championship, equals Magnussen record, and he could win tje F3.5 championship in his frost attempt, samething that Ricciardo didn’t achieve, remener Vergne is one year younger that Ricciardo) could be a better driver than Ricciardo. We’ve been waiting so long for a true french talent, and i think today we’ve even have two fantastic drivers: Vergne and Bianchi. Both being in contract with Red bull and Ferrari, two of the fastest formula one team, with Mac of course. I think that every one in the world, even you my english friends wants to see a french driver in f1, and winning races. And i just have one question for you mister James Allen, please can you tell if there is any news about Vergne driving the friday morning test ?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not heard that but it would make sense

      1. JEVthebest says:

        Okay, because french commentator Jean Louis Moncet cleary said that it vould be the reality, so lets wait and see. And thank you to answer my question, it doesn’t happen often in France.

  69. CaroH says:

    I think it is really great that we have another Australian in Formula 1. Mark Webber started in a fairly lowly ranked team and he has done well. Daniel has shown he has the goods in his Friday practice sessions. This can only be good for his career.

  70. Evel says:

    I think it’s good and much needed experience for Ricciardo but as the author said, he needs to stand out in a bad car. He’ll obviously need some races to settle in but I think that if he wants to go places he needs to be beating Liuzzi comfortably in a few races. If he’s losing out to Liuzzi at the end of the year, this will surely put a big question mark over his future and if that happens it could end up being a costly mistake in his career. Then again if he proves to be no good, he won’t last long at Toro Rosso in any case. If he’s as good as people are saying, there’s no reason not to go for the drive at HRT.

    If he performs well in the HRT I’d like to see him move to Toro Rosso for 2012 in place of Buemi. I think Buemi has had long enough in the
    team and has never really shone, nor does he look likely to do so.

    The whole purpose of Toro Rosso is to find and develop extraordinary drivers with the aim of eventually moving them to a Red Bull seat. Buemi doesn’t seem to be that man and just doesn’t appear to have what it takes to ever fill a Red Bull seat.

    Alguersuari, on the other hand deserves some more time. He hasn’t been with the team as long as Buemi but has showed lots of promise recently with some career best performances. He seems to have the most potential for improvement of the 2 Toro Rosso drivers.
    With so much young talent all vying for a F1 seat, there no longer seems to be place for a driver like Buemi who has never stood out and has looked mediocre at best.

    If Ricciardo shows some promise while at HRT, I say give him a chance in a Toro Rosso race seat for 2012.

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