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Is Ricciardo making a big mistake starting F1 career with Hispania?
Red Bull Racing
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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1

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.

2

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.

3

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 ?

4

Not heard that but it would make sense

5

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.

6
Adrian Newey Jr

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.

7

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.

8

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.

9

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.

10

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.

11

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.

12

Id feel pumped to drive a HRT.

13

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.

14

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.

15

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?

16

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.

17

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.

18

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?

19

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.

20

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.

21

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??

22
John Ferdinand

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.

23

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.

24

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.

25

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.

26

Webber was at Mugello watching Stoner ….

27

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.

28

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?

29

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.

30

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.

31

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 😛 You never know but I would think the former has more of a chance than the latter.

32

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.

33

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…

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