Ricciardo flies in Young Guns F1 test
Red Bull Racing
Ricciardo flies in Young Guns F1 test
Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Nov 2010   |  3:21 pm GMT  |  50 comments

Daniel Ricciardo, the Red Bull reserve driver, set the fastest time on the first day of the Young Guns test at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi.

Ricciardo: A lot to smile about (Getty)

The 21 year old Australian set a fastest time of 1m 39.616s, which compares very favourably with the pole time for last weekend’s Grand Prix, set by Sebastian Vettel in the same car at 1m39.394s.
Mark Webber’s qualifying time was 1m39.925s.

It has to be observed that the comparison of times with last weekend is slightly misleading as the track has ramped up significantly since qualifying with all the rubber that has gone down. Nevertheless it is impressive speed from the former British F3 champion, who finished runner up in the Formula Renault 3.5 series this year.

Ricciardo was also very fast in last season’s young guns test. You get the sense that Red Bull consider him to be the next big thing. I asked around in the paddock last weekend about his prospects and it seems that there is a plan afoot for him to run a Red Bull backed entry in GP2 next season. But at the same time, this two day test in Abu Dhabi will serve as a reminder to his bosses that he has the potential to move straight to F1 next season.

The Red Bull owned Toro Rosso team has already confirmed that Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari will drive for them next season, but there has been some pressure on Buemi in the second half of the season after being outperformed by Alguersuari. A strong run by Ricciardo this week will heighten that pressure.

Also likely to be staking his claim for a 2011 race seat is Paul di Resta, the Force India reserve driver, who hopes to replace Tonio Liuzzi.

Red Bull also backs Frenchman Jean Eric Vergne, who is running this week for Toro Rosso and who is also considered to be a hot prospect.

Ferrari are running Jules Bianchi, who is managed by Nicolas Todt, Felipe Massa’s manager. Bianchi has the car to himself for these two days, not sharing it with any of the other drivers in Ferrari’s Young Driver programme. Ferrari announced that Bianchi was the “test driver” last week, rather than the reserve driver, which is the role Giancarlo Fisichella has carried out. There seems to be some vagueness about where on stops and the other starts and what Fisichella’s future role might be. Bianchi will be at all the European F1 rounds next year as he continues his quest to win the GP2 series with Todt’s ART outfit. After that he will be looking for a way into an F1 seat.

Pastor Maldonado had a run in the HRT, covering 108 laps, the most of any driver today. This is an interesting link up giving him a lot of extra time in an F1 car ahead of his likely F1 debut next season with Williams. HRT boss Colin Kolles is close to Williams boss Adam Parr, who yesterday let Nico Hulkenberg go, paving the way for Maldonado, who is also due to test for Williams this week, to take the seat. Today he did a 1m43.750s, which compares well with Bruno Senna’s qualifying time on Saturday of 1m 45.085s, even allowing for track improvement.

It’s interesting to look at this next generation having their chance to run in F1 cars. With Sebastian Vettel becoming the youngest ever F1 champion at 23, it shows that the age barrier is coming down all the time. In the last five years that record has been broken three times, first by Fernando Alonso then by Lewis Hamilton. We must be getting close to the limit of how young you can be to win the title, but Vettel is proof that young driver programmes get results. Running this week are some other youngsters who are keen to prove that further.

1. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1m39.616s
2. Oliver Turvey McLaren 1m40.725s
3. Antonio Felix da Costa Force India 1m41.381s
4. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m41.432s
5. Dean Stoneman Williams 1m41.522s
6. Mikhail Aleshin Renault 1m42.073s
7. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m42.489s
8. Paul di Resta Force India 1m42.736s
9. Sam Bird Mercedes 1m42.985s
10. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 1m43.518s
11. Pastor Maldonado HRT 1m43.750s
12. Jules Bianchi Ferrari 1m43.894s
13. Rodolfo Gonzalez Lotus 1m44.924s
14. Rio Haryanto Virgin 1m49.439s

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Can we look at it in a different way ?

Is the Red Bull easier to drive than the rest of the field because of the enormous grip it produces ?

As James said, there is more grip now on the track than in qualy before the GP.

Red Bull hashad all season more grip than any other car and I think it is very simple to see it on the time sheet here.

Ricciardo could be the next Vettel but I don’t think he is as fats as Vettel or Webber in the same condition.

Therefore I think the grip helped him and RB must be very easier to drive than other cars.

It makes me wonder how good Adrian Newey is ???? and why McLaren and Williams let him go !!!

Or maybe other teams are cheating with the specs of the cars ?

Any idea James ?


Anyone else thinking d’Ambrosio is looking fast? The virgin is a few tenths quicker than the HRT and he is a few tenths quicker in a virgin than maldonao is in an HRT. Then today d’amborsio in a renault was 2nd fastest to ricciardio in a red bull.

Bianchi in the 2nd day also looked like he was starting to get the hang of it. Ricciardo seems fastest and I believe would blow away both alg and buemi in the torro rosso, I’m hoping he’ll replace buemi, as I for some reason like alg-inspellablename-e. Really show what can happen when you get a great talent like riciardo and then give him the ability to work on his f1 skills with great sims, all the tech people working on the sims and the opportunities red bull provide. Now if only all the other drivers could get testing days and support form the teams?

Steve of Cornubia

I suppose, if you had any lingering doubts that the Red Bull was the fastest car out there, this test rams the point home. Even with an F1 novice aboard, the RBR tops the timesheets.

Oh, and may I ask why the driver who posted second fastest gets no mention in this piece? I know we English like to be modest and waving the Union Jack isn’t considered a good idea any more, but give the lad a break!


It could have been more recent, but i would guess the last time 2 Australians were on the grid at the same time was Frank Gardner and Jack Brabham in the mid 60’s


Hey James

I’m quite excited by the prospect of another Australian coming into the field, but would it serve Daniel better to do a year of GP2 first or jump straight into Formula 1. I have always thought that using GP2 as a stepping stone helps a driver hone their craft. However I am not so sure now, mainly with how well Kobaishi has gone. From memory he was pretty ordinary in GP2?


I cannot be more excited about Ricciardo dominating the timing boards.

2011 is the year of an Australian domination of motorsport: Webber WDC in F1 and Ricciardo Champion in GP2, then in 2012, Ricciardo F1 WDC!

Hey, maybe a little unrealistic, but a man can dream can’t he? 😀

Seriously though, Ricciardo in F1 needs to happen ASAP. When was the last time we had two Australians in the field?


And Casey on the Honda…


I Agree, Webber has really fired up Aussies to follow the sport. When Mark leaves how good would it be to have this new young bloke Ricciardo go up against Vettel. Now that’s mouth watering…


Good to see I will have someone to support when Webber hangs up his overalls. I would like to see him get a drive in one of the lesser teams before taking Webbers spot in 2012. If he is the next big thing it would be interesting to see how Vettel will handles this.


I would love to see Daniel drive for Torro Rosso next year, and then RBR in 2012 – i know Buemi has a contract but that doesnt mean much these days

Have there ever been 2 Australian drivers on the grid at once?



Paul England and Jack Brabham in Germany 1957,

Jack Brabham and Tim Schenken in 1970 – four races

Tim Schenken and Dave Walker in ten races in 1972. Alan Jones and Vern Schuppan in four races in 1975 and 77.

There have even been some races with three:

Jack Brabham, Frank Gardner and Paul Hawkins for three races in 1965; and

Warwick Brown, Larry Perkins and Alan Jones at Watkins Glen in 1976.

By my record book from 1991, David Brabham, Tony Gaze and Mark Webber are the other Australians to race in the World Championship


Wow … thanks Martin

Plenty of information there!


Hi James, I’m intrigued – why is the ‘silly season’ so late this year? (In fact, it’s non-existant).

What’s caused the shift from the mid-season shuffles we used to get not so long ago and do you think the future is an end-of-season young gun shoot-out like this?



Because all the top teams had stable line ups into 2011 from early on this year. Massa and Kubica were confirmed in June, Webber in May, Button, Hamilton, Vettel, Rosberg, Schumacher and Alonso all have long term contracts.


Looks like Red Bull have the pick of the young drivers coming through. I personally believe Ricciardo and Vergne are two future stars. Both been devastatingly quick in junior Formula and adapted to their machines in short time. Going to be tough to put them in the same team with Vettel there. Probably an Australian that has a better chance of taking Vettel on and giving him a few headaches.

Maldonado looks pretty decent also sometimes drivers just take that little bit longer to develop. Who knows what he could do next season? A good example is his team mate for next season in terms of maturing and speed combined!

Finally I know for Bianchi it was more of a development day for the team. So this is reflected in the lap time. He has been talked up to do big things in the coming years, but I just can’t help but feel he is a little off the pace in general. Needs a big GP2 season next year.


It would be useful to know the times each drivers fastest laps where done – as the track will have evolved over the day. Similarly you cant really compare the times to Saturdays Qualifying as the track will now have significantly more rubber on it.

Just a thought also for the pirelli test over the weekend.



What possibilities do you see for the next few years of Hulkenberg’s career? He’s certainly performed well enough to keep his F1 seat.


Read yesterday’s post on the subject


How did the session unfold? Were the drivers simulating a qualy, a race, or were they under very different setups in a Friday practice fashion?

Bianchi’s best time seems pretty high.


Surely Red Bull should replace Buemi with Ricciardo and give him a year’s experience before joining Vettel at RBR in 2012 when Webber retires.Buemi has been beaten latterly by Alguesuari who let’s be honest aint that great!


That is an epic effort by Maldonado. Faster than the Ferrari and pretty close to some other major names in the HRT. Hopefully he has some speed to go with the bags of oil money he brings with him.


I was surprised that in HRT he had a faster time than a Ferrari. Obviously there are too many variables with testing (fuel loads, tyres, car set up etc:) to read to much into it. But still a noticeable effort


I agree with other comments that da Costa has looked quick, but we must take in to account that the track has been evolving all day, let alone since the race, so times are not, to a certain extent, that comparable. Although I would not wish to discredit any of these young guys, Ricciardo, da Costa and Gutierrez have all seemed impressive.

Well done all round. The Young Driver Test is a great idea.


James, could Ricciardo take Webber’s seat next season ? I heard rumors…


I doubt it. Would be tough for RBR to defend the constructors’ title with a rookie


Pirelli tyres will be used on Friday.


James, I was interested by your comment with respect to Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton’s ages when they won their titles. At the same time we’ve seen great performances over the past season or two from relative veterans like Rubens, Webber and Trulli – I suppose we could include the likes of Button in that category too. Do you think age is really as important a factor in a driver’s success that is popularly suggested? Beyond a cut off limit of a driver’s physical fitness I’m not sure it matters how old or young you are – what counts is talent and desire. What do you think?


Sure, good point, but it’s amazing that in the last 5 years the youngest champion bar has come down, where it didn’t for many years before.


The years before were the Schumi/Mika years when there was, at most, two cars which could win the WDC. I don’t think such young drivers were even thought worth of an F1 seat until Jenson, Kimi and Fernando came along. Especially Kimi’s success with such a limited experience in single seaters is what opened up the eyes of many teams to try to bring up the next big talent. At least that’s how I see things.


I actually think that Hamilton, Kubica and Vettel are bad news for future rookie drivers. All three came into the sport in circumstances where they instantly performed. Kubica outperformed what Villeneuve had achieved with the car, and got a podium in his third race. Vettel broke almost every ‘youngest driver’ record and Hamilton equalled the sports best driver in the same machinery.

The result is we became desensitised to this level of success and started to expect it. Since Vettel came on the scene over three years ago there has not been a single rookie who has compared to them. The closest is Kobayashi, who was the only rookie to outperform his established team mate. Indeed, Hulkenberg, who came in as reigning GP2 champion with a success rate similar to Hamilton was unable to shine against Barrichello and has been dropped.

While I certainly believe that young driver programmes are essential to the sport – and indeed, I believe it has made the average talent in the sport at the highest level it has ever been – I do not believe that we are likely to see a new rookie come in and perform like Hamilton and Vettel have done.

For a start, there was a vacuum when they entered the sport. Schumacher had dominated for over a decade, and when he left Alonso was the only WDC on the grid. While the likes of Hamilton and Vettel performed well there was not the same level of competition as there is now. With so many young talents coming through they are all in competition and if they fail to consistently put in headline grabbing acts they are out.

Even a pole position could not save Hulkenberg – although I suspect that had been decided before Brazil. Petrov is only staying because of his money, and that is still not 100%.

Kobayashi has been the only rookie to put in a performance that has grabbed enough attention. It also helps he has one of the most pragmatic and measured team principals.

Vettel and Hamilton were asked on comment on how Vettel had taken Hamilton’s record as youngest WDC and Vettel said he did not think that anyone would ever beat Hamilton and Hamilton remarked that Vettel should enjoy it while it lasts because he only got to enjoy it for 2 years.

However, I don’t think Vettel is going to lose it any time soon. When Hamilton became the youngest WDC, Vettel had already become the youngest race winner, it was clear he was going to merge as a contender.

The only drivers in the sport right now who are young enough to take the record from Vettel are the two Torro Rosso drivers, and neither of them have put in a performance that will make you sit up and take notice.

With all the front running teams having fairly secure driver line ups, and with a surplus of talent on the grid as it is, it is going to take any rookie who enters the sport a while to establish themselves well enough to be promoted to a WDC contending car.

If it was not for Montoya retiring and Kubica crashing in Canada it is possible that neither Hamilton or Vettel would have set any of their records – and that happened at a time when the driver market was not as congested as it is today.



An excellent analysis in my view. Terry’s point about how close Hamilton came also reflects how difficult it is to win and experience helps. In one sense Vettel has more experience in putting together a championship season than Webber, just not in F1. Hamilton dominated when put in the best car in F3 and F3000, but in his first F3 season, McLaren picked a team that had a down year and he didn’t do that well. That experience of regularly winning in lower grades is critical to converting early in an F1 career.


If Montoya came back he’d put both the young, and old drivers to shame. Same for Kimi.


While I agree with you in the main, ben, it’s worth also pointing out that, but for an unfortunate tyre decision, Lewis should have been a WDC a year earlier and actually only missed it by a point at a time when we had different scoring.

I know I’m off subject here, but I can’t miss the opportunity to observe that our list of World Champions is hopelessly skewed anyway. The points have been changed several times and if one system had been in place from the start, we would have quite a few different WDCs.

Pardon the rant!


Pastor’s time is pretty good, may not be a bad pay driver after all. 1.5 seconds better than Senna’s Qualifying time and the Virgin was 1 second faster than the HRT in that session, but today its only 2/10th’s.

I think it already shows he can drive fast and adapt quickly and with Rubens for a year he has a great opportunity. Maybe Williams has been very smart with this move?


“We must be getting close to the limit of how young you can be to win the title”

If we look at Moto GP and the 125cc class, where we’ve seen World Champs that could not drive the bike out of the circuit because they are underage (this year Márquez, Capirossi in 1990)!!

I guess the limit must be near on F1, but who knows how close we are. Maybe it’s 20 years? I think that a man that age can have the physical strenght required, and also the mental abilities.

Probably the main obstacle is the need for the drivers to pass through different series before deserving a F1 seat – more difficult with the test ban, of course.


If you take two years off Hamilton you’d be close to the limit. He had a relatively weak first year in F3 and won the next. Then he nearly won in his first season and did in his second.

Hamilton and Vettel are cases where the sponsoring team had a championship winning car and a vacant seat. Alonso coming to McLaren Moved Kimi to Ferrari and then Montoya left, creating a vacancy in a top team. Bianchi is more likely to get pushed to a Ferrari-engined team like Sauber, or never make it. I presume Ferrari get all the throttle traces from Toro Rosso and Sauber, which would help assess the driving skills.


James, are the teams using engines left over from this season or brand new ones?


What do you reckon of da Costa? I understand this is his first F1 test?


Not based on much more than a look at those times but it could just be that the red bull is so easy to drive while a mclaren or ferarri takes a bit more from the driver.

Not taking anything away from vettel but I am starting to think that car is so good any talent could have had a shot at the dwc


Also bear in mind ricciardo destroyed everyone in last years young drivers test aswell. Maybe its because he gets more time on simulators etc being redbulls reserve driver…


True that, he has access to a 1st class simulator that I don’t think other drivers have.

The biggest surprise in these laptimes for me is not how fast Ricciardo is, but how Bianchi is lagging in the F10. Maybe they are not fitting F-Duct and double diffusers anymore, to collect data for 2011?


bianchi and sam bird were doing more aero testing for ferrari and mercedes on day two they should get the chance to show off they’re real speed.


If you win in a Toro Rosso in the rain, you’ve proved yourself as a talent.

The track would have rubbered in so much after Sunday, would have been different to quali.


Thank you Tank,

You took the words out of my mouth. I still think Seb’s first win was his most amazing (to date, anyway).


And what about António Félix da Costa ? He was faster today than Di Resta.


di resta only set a time to give da costa a baseline to work from though his times were still impressive.

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