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Ricciardo raises eyebrows with stunning pace in Jerez
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Ricciardo raises eyebrows with stunning pace in Jerez
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Dec 2009   |  11:53 pm GMT  |  30 comments

Australian Daniel Ricciardo did his reputation in F1 circles no harm at all with a stunning lap time in the final day of the Jerez test for young drivers.

Picture 41
At the wheel of the Red Bull, the 20 year old Australian, who won the British F3 championship, clocked a time of 1m 17.418s, the fastest time of the week. It was set on low fuel and new tyres, but it is still a quick time to add to the impressive runs he had put in during high fuel running. Engineers from other teams had their eye on him from day one.

Ricciardo is from Perth, but his father is Sicilian and his mother Calabrian. He speaks some Italian and clearly felt at home in the F1 environment, telling Italian media colleages that driving an F1 car was not as hard as he thought it would be. Mind you, he was driving the car that won the last three Grands Prix of the season. Next season he will race in World Series.

While Jules Bianchi captured most of the attention this week for living out every boy’s dream and getting a first run in an F1 car at the wheel of a Ferrari and then announcing that he had signed a contract. Ricciardo and Paul di Resta are the two drivers who emerge from the week with their reputations most enhanced. Di Resta was second fastest today having thoroughly impressed the Force India team. He is hoping for a third driver role there, but may find some new F1 teams knocking on his door after this week’s performance.

Also in action today was Lucas di Grassi, who is a candidate for a drive with the Virgin Racing team.

The test was pronounced a success by the teams, who have been able to do some valuable work on testing the cars at their 2010 weight, which is 620 kilos (due to no refuelling next year). Many teams got some useful data to help with the development of their 2010 cars.

The next question is how many of these drivers will appear on the 2010 entry list when all the gaps are filled in by the new teams? It seems that there is some promising talent out there, although most of it still needs a bit of maturing.

1. Ricciardo Red Bull 1m17.418s 77
2. Di Resta Force India 1m18.736s 53
3. Paffett McLaren 1m18.746s 59
4. Conway Brawn 1m19.096s 77
5. Hulkenberg Williams 1m19.226s 106
6. Baguette Sauber 1m19.356s 70
7. Turvey McLaren 1m19.358s 32
8. Ericsson Brawn 1m19.382s 49
9. Di Grassi Renault 1m19.602s 123
10. Hildebrand Force India 1m19.873s 41
11. Sanchez Ferrari 1m21.147s 39
12. Zampieri Ferrari 1m21.279s 42
12. Zipoli Ferrari 1m21.725s 41
13. Hartley Toro Rosso 1m22.493s 50
15. Bortolotti Toro Rosso 1m23.271s 34
16. Tung Renault 1m32.477s 4

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It seems that unless you are among the top tier of F1 teams, it is the size of your wallet, not your right foot, that determines whether you get to F1.


Nice to see some surprises can still happen. Lets hope he keeps it up.

Educational, this blog, since I had to google ‘Calabria’ and am now a little smarter than the average bear. ;D


I can’t remember a time when there were so many highly rated young drivers both starting out and on the cusp of entering F1 – Hulkenburg, Di Resta, Bianchi, Ricciardo – depending on who you listen to all are the next ‘big thing’.

Having said that most will turn out to be Kovi-alike journeymen. Maybe one or two will be the next Hamilton-level sensation.

I’m dying to see what some of these young guns can do – Hulk and Di Resta especially.


i thought 620kgs was the new minimum weight to take into account the heavier drivers (in particular for KERS). i expect all they did was to ballast up the cars to simulate heavier fuel tanks for some very basic data, i reckon this test was probably more about just getting some young driver names out there.

end of the line for alguesuari & grosjean?

whats happening about tyre warmers – are they banned for next year? i know it was talked about…


Hi James

Just wondering how much you can read into the times?… How far out am I with this assessment:

2010 cars were very similar on performance (all within a second generally), therefore a fairly level playing field for all the young drivers.

Paffet is the only real experienced tester running so a good yard stick to compare the rest against.

So Soucek did a good job along with Di Resta and Ricciardo?


James –

Excuse my ignorance, I think I have missed something somewhere. Who is the Virgin Racing Team?



The Manor team. It’s on the FIA entry list


Good news. We need new blood. A natural, is always welcome. We’ll see how he does in the near future, but alguersuari should be a little worried about the australian, right now.


I hope Di Resta at least gets the test role with Force India and can replace Sutil in 2011.. Or even better I hope another team signs him up! It is such a crime that such a great talent has been ignored by the entire grid! I could see that Vettel would be a future world champion in Fuji/Shanghai in 2007, and it is clear most teams also think that so why doesn’t anyone want to get the guy that actually beat him in the same machinery?

It is a risk taking him on, but why are some teams satisfied with mediocre drivers like Sutil when they could take a justified risk with Di Resta and potentially end up with a future champ or at least a driver capable of winning?

I just hope he doesn’t spend his days as a DTM driver. It must also feel terrible seeing the guy you beat before, doing so well and challenging for titles! And I think Vettel could dominate F1 once he becomes complete.. Now that Raikkonen is gone, I believe Vettel has the best raw speed, so in the future I think he’ll be a 5 x WDC atleast 🙂


James, I think you’ve got a little confused. Wasn’t the increase in weight limit intended to make it easier for teams with KERS to use ballast? I think that refueling is a totally separate issue.

Of course, teams may well want to test with heavier cars to evaluate the effects, both of the change in weight limit, and of running with lots more fuel on board.


At the time of writing this, the comments haven’t been updated for nearly twelve hours so I’ll probably find myself something like the 20th person to say this, but why don’t Mercedes take Paul di Resta? He’s already a Mercedes driver, after all. Or does it come down to the fact that Mercedes can’t afford to take a risk on both drivers? Nico R is probably going to do well, but there is still a risk involved with him. They certainly can’t be entirely sure he is going to be the safe pair of hands that a Heidfed or a Kubica would be, and that may be what kills off Di Resta’s chances. But I would have thought that Di Resta and Mercedes were just about made for each other in F1.


Wow! To me it looks like the future of F1 is going to be in for an interesting time. Some very exciting talent there coming through the field. Like you said before on another post James, I think we are entering a new Golden Age of Formula 1.


Di Resta, Bianchi, Ricciardo, Rossi – why does it seem that many second generation Italians have a better chance in succeeding in F1 compared to those remaining in Italy? You would have thought the Ferrari name and money would act as a platform for Italian drivers.

When was the last time a home grown Italian won the F1 championship? Ascari in ’53!

Compare that to the number of UK champion drivers that have one since. Even Andretti (born in Italy I think) succeeded from his base in North America.

Is this down to the fact that a unique, once in a generation talent is required to win at the top level? Eg Germany never had a champion until Schumi, Spain with Alonso, France with Prost? These are large and popuous countries after all with significant motor racing histories.

Is the UK lucky to have many “once in a generation” talent or is this due to the junior racing series within the UK?

Final comment is that it is interesting to see that McLaren have an all UK line up, there have been rumours about Mercedes having an all German line-up and Ferrari…..? Personally I think it is encouraging that arguably the most patriotic team selects drivers on primarily for their ability alone and not considering whether their passport matches that of the team.

I’d be interested to see the reaction to this!


I suspect Hamilton needed to be British, or a least a star in British karting to get the McLaren assistance. My perception, from Australia, is that the Formula 1 industry is centralised in England. Even Ferrari flirted with a partial base under John Barnard and Steve Nicholls.

If you look at most of the drivers in F1, they ended up in top junior formula teams and from there did enough to keep winning. If you don’t get the deal with one of the right teams you stop winning and the career stops. Hamilton had the McLaren money to overcome a weak year in F3 to move to the best team and dominate in 2005. He was then funded into the best GP2 car and won more closely. At each level you need to be able to adapt to the style of car and Hamilton has the talent to star in all categories. However, if he was Polish there is a much greater chance we would never have heard of him. I’m not saying Kubica is better, just that he didn’t have patronage early on. If you look at the GP2 results and other lower formulae, Piquet would have matched Hamilton, but it would appear that he doesn’t quite the talent for cars as quick as F1. In 10 years he might be the best touring car driver in the world… Provided his dad pays to establish a quality team.

To take another British example, Williams has had a strong bias toward drivers with strong English language skills. Unfairly or otherwise, journalists have suggested Button got the Williams drive largely based on being English. The F1 drive effectively rescued his career.

If you look at it from an Italian business perspective, where would you put your money? F1 is all about Ferrari, so where is the return on investment? In the carbon fibre chassis era (mid 80s on), Ferrari have used reserve drivers in 91, 94, 99 and 09.

Mark Webber used Australian connections to get an okay F3 drive. Norbert Haug saw something in him and from there Paul Stoddart got him into F1. His F1 results have exceeded his prior career, in my opinion.

Ryan Briscoe and James Courtney are two other examples from Australia. Both were international carting stars. Both got good F3 drives and F1 testing roles. Courtney had a crash in Jaguar at Monza, and that effectively ended his F1 prospects. He now wins occasionally in Australian touring cars, not unlike a few Brits in the DTM. Briscoe’s F1 hopes with Toyota basically ended with the signing of Trulli and Schumacher. He ended up in the US and initially had a reputation for crashing, but is now winning regularly for Penske.

There is so much circumstance involved. You can’t compare Hamilton or Alonso’s situation to Usain Bolt. Bolt is the fastest ever, and with sprinting the talent get found, and in a sense the training isn’t too hard (see Bolt’s, or Marion Jones’ comments on the 400 m in comparison). Alonso and Hamilton are contenders for the best current driver in F1. Are they better than Loeb? What does the RoC prove? You know there are uncertainties. Which adds to the appeal.

This blog is primarily written for a British audience, so I’ll forgive all the ‘Anthony Davidson should get a drive in 2010’ comments, along with Paffett, di Resta and others. Paige in the first response shows his US leanings in mentioning Rossi. In the US there is NASCAR. Without USF1, I think his best chance of a race seat would be to be picked up by Red Bull, like Ricciardo. Unless he has family money, or a fanatical sponsor (like a Steve Jobs), then he’d struggle to get that top seat in GP2 that gives him the series win.

Even winning GP2 doesn’t always help. For 2009 there was one new seat – Buemi (sixth in GP2 Asia in 2008 in his second season). We have seen Japanese drivers arrive thanks to their nationality. Nico Rosberg is going to made in England Mercedes team because his mum is German.

There are still important things that will come from the testing. Ricciardo has probably avoided the Jan Magnussen concern of only being quick in F3. Brendon Hartley in the Toro Rosso may have seem a switch in the pecking order within Red Bull based on this test.

None of the drivers will be the finished article after three days, but the engineers will be able to see whether there will be a fast transition, which is important these days.

Right now, being British, German or Japanese is your best chance of getting you bum in an F1 car or more likely the simulator. If you show promise you get another go. If you keep making a progress you get another go. If you are like Hamilton or Alonso, then you are at a high standard early on. If the curve takes a bit longer, you are another Massa.

Massa won four championships in the three years prior to his first F1 season, so his an example of winning keeping his career going. The longer races and the technology make F1 different from the lower classes and this makes the transition difficult for many. The end of refuelling will bring an additional skill requirement. What this does is cause teams to hang on to ‘average’ drivers who have learnt F1 rather than invest in the future as over the season the old hand is likely to do better in the points.


Nearly 1.5 seconds over the entire field! Everything he has done up to and including yesterday shows young Daniel has got ‘future champion’ written all over.

It’s not too late perhaps for him to grab the second Toro Rosso seat but don’t be surprised if RB don’t lock him up by giving him the 3rd driver spot.

He doesn’t bring with him the big cash though so the newbie teams are unlikely to be interested despite his obvious speed.


There has been some interesting performances, as well as the expected ones this week in Jerez. I was taken aback by Ricciardo’s performance today and Bianchi’s time on Tuesday. Also I thought Soucek would be good and there abouts but not top on the first day.

I always envisioned Di Resta and Hulkenberg being the fastest aswell as the most consistent over the week (Hope Hulkenberg has being doing a lot of heavy car testing for Williams; as I believed he would post the best or extremely close to the best times.

Also I have to be pedantic and state that my dream as a child would not have been to race/drive in a Ferrari F1 car, but to be in a Williams; in 1991 when I started fully following F1 Ferrari were poor and no matter what ever happens I will always be a Willliams man.


James you know as well as anyone on here testing times mean jack squat. To actually measure who was the best would take days, hours, weeks, and maybe months analysing all the car data. There are so many motives and sub-motives as well.

For example it wouldn’t surprise me if Ricciardo had a contract with RedBull, and for a set fee could be released from it. Put him on a low fuel, sticky tyre run and suddenly you have a driver all the other teams want to have.

People look way to hard into these testing times. They mean very little. Unless you have full access to a drivers history including teams/financial position/results measuring talent is next to impossible. It’s why teams are now investing so heavily in young driver development programs.


The same thing was said about brawn at the start of the season.


I am not sure they really do James. If the cars are not being scrutineered, and are not being run in 2010 spec the teams can do anything. These days are for the drivers and not the car’s development so the teams can be doing anything. Wasn’t it Damon Hill who said Senna was never all that quick in off-season testing but then would just light it up come race weekend?

Even kart teams will slap on ‘special’ engines and tyres during winter testing to attract drivers into their teams. This kid is the sort of kid that in 12 months time everyone will go “…but he was so fast in testing”

Lap times make up such a tiny part of the data used by race teams. in fact most top flight driver coaches won’t even look at lap times as a primary tool.

Remember that Italian kid who broke the Fiorano lap record? If lap times were so important why did Ferrari sign Bianchi and not him?

He may well be very good, but somehow I doubt he really is as special as that time suggests


Not quite true, outright fastest lap times are hard to draw too many conclusions from but that is a quick time by any standards. I mentioned his performance with the heavy car as well though. Remember every lap is logged and you can see pace and consistency, so testing times taken as a whole do mean a lot actually


I’m very pleased for Ricciardo. After reading an interview with him on autosport, I really took a liking to how he approachs racing, by just relaxing and enjoying the whole thing. He’s got a calm and mature head on his shoulders.

Surely a chilled straight talking Aussie is a breath of fresh air F1 could do with.

Quite a few drivers mentioned that the World Series by Renault cars are very similar to F1 cars, in how they feel like they are underpowered compared to how much grip they have. Only Robert Kubica has ever won WSR in his rookie year, so if Ricciardo can match the feat it’ll say a lot for his future.


Chilled, straight talking Aussie?

Mark Webber in a nutshell.

Ricciardo doesn’t get much press here in Australia, but I think he has a good chance of driving a Red Bull F1 car in 2012.


Hi James,

Soucek seemed fairly confident of getting a drive for next season and he was fastest on the first day but I haven’t seen much talk about him. Do you think he’s got a chance and if so, who with? I saw him at Donington in F2 this summer and he looked highly impressive to me.




How worried are the teams about RBR’s pace overall? 1.3 over the field including testing for 2010 configuration, most of these guys are rookies in F1.


They weren’t testing 2010 configuration cars AFAIK


And was probably running on fumes and quali-tyres!!


I hope you are right about some new teams looking at Di Resta, he has incredible raw speed, and it would be long overdue if he got a race seat in F1 next year.

Simon from Melbourne

I told you a couple of days ago James to look out for Ricciardo 🙂

Paige Michael-Shetley


Surely Alexander Rossi raised some eyebrows by topping the morning session on Tuesday as an 18-year old?

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