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Ricciardo signing shows its all about timing
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Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Sep 2013   |  8:59 am GMT  |  213 comments

One of the most poignant thoughts to arise from the promotion of Daniel Ricciardo from Toro Rosso to the Red Bull team is the role that timing and opportunity play in a driver’s career.

The announcement from Mark Webber in June that he was to retire at the end of 2013, created an opportunity at Red Bull, the first since the end of 2008.

In the intervening period a number drivers have been through the Red Bull young driver programme – some have done a spell at Toro Rosso – and then headed for the exit with no promotion in prospect.

One wonders what Jaime Alguersuari in particular musy be feeling today. The Spaniard won the British F3 championship, sweeping aside Sergio Perez, now a McLaren driver and was continuing his development when he was dropped into Toro Rosso at just 19 years of age, when they suddenly dropped Sebastien Bourdais days before the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Alguersuari has since said himself that he was not ready for F1, but as you never know when a chance may arise again you never say no to an offer to race. He struggled initially, but by his second year, 2011, he was developing into an impressive racer.

He scored 26 points that season in a Toro Rosso car that, like this year’s, was capable of qualifying in the top ten from time to time. He did that several times, like Ricciardo has done, and from Canada onwards he was in the points 7 times in 13 races, with outstanding drives in Italy and Korea and strong runs in Canada, Valencia and India. He scored 63% of his team’s total points, which is another strong sign.

You have to improve as a Grand Prix driver and he just got better and better to the point where you had an eye on him in every race in the second half of the season, as he took the improved Toro Rosso and made some bold strategies work for him.

He had the right approach for the Pirelli tyres; the key was his strong pace on worn soft tyres, which he pushed for long middle stints. Because this site goes into depth on race strategies, with the UBS Strategy Reports strand, we could see close up what he was doing. Rival midfield teams’ strategists would often comment on it admiringly.

But the problem was that there was no opening in the senior team; Webber and Vettel were a strong pairing at Red Bull, so the opportunity for promotion simply wasn’t there. He had an offer from Lotus, but having been told at the final race of the year by Helmut Marko (above right) that he was safe for 2012, he figured he would do another year there and see if Webber decided to retire. A call at Christmas time telling him he was no longer wanted ended his F1 career.

18 months year later Webber called time on his F1 adventure and Red Bull found themselves with an opening. And so it is now Ricciardo who finds himself in the right time at the right place. Good luck to him, that’s life.

So far Ricciardo has scored 12 points this year, one less than his team mate, but Red Bull has seen enough of his speed in testing and on the simulator to believe they know what they are doing.

I’ve not seen as much from the likeable Aussie yet as I did from Alguersuari that year, but his qualifying speed is undoubted and his drive through the field to 10th in Spa hinted at the quality in races which he will need to mix it with the big beasts like Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel and Raikkonen at the front.

So is Alguersuari the one who got away? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s academic now.

The point is that had Mark Webber decided to retire in summer 2011, Alguersuari would probably have been in the same position Ricciardo is in today.

Daniel deserves his chance and it’s positive to see young drivers getting an opportunity to make a name for themselves.

Such are the twists of fate and fortune in sport.

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James, just to clarify, did Jaime have an offer from the team that was Lotus in 2011 or the team that was Lotus in 2012?




Excellent article James. I suppose it’s the nature of F1 that with only 22 seats available, timing and an element of luck unfortunately play a part. Do you think Jaime Alguersuari has a chance of making his way back a la Grosjean?


Toro Rosso should have hired Takuma Sato in 2009


its a shame Alguersuari has disappeared of the map a little. If he was putting in good performances in another series somewhere a chance could pop-up in f1. I know he thought he had a seat for 2013 in F1 but it fell through. Hopefully we will see him in Indycar, DTM or sports cars next year. He is still young and could make a return.


I for one, and I would bet there are more like me, hope Daniel Riccardo proves all the naysayers wrong, and is competitive in the Red Bull. Doesn’t it occur to all the armchair experts that maybe,just maybe,the boffins at Red Bull are not a bunch of fools? Perhaps there is a small possibility they have knowledge that we, the unwashed are not privy to? Go for it Danno, and thanks for everything and best wishes to Mark Webber.


James, any chance we may see Ricciardo in the RBR proir to seasons end. Porsche are currenty testing their car without Mark due to his F1 contract, any chance they may come to an agreement and release Mark to give Ricciardo a run in the RBR if all parties agree?


James, I wonder if DR getting the nod at RBR is something of a marketing ploy as well as a deserved drive as well as timing. I would like your marketing guru to think on this though. We Australians do drink a lot of Red Bull, sales run the various things that Red bull have on the go. I am glad that Dr has MW place at RBR and wish him well BUT!!


Daniel is a nice chap I have to say. Let’s wait for the points tally of him and JEV when the season finishes. That’ll will be interesting. It’s the points that count most.


I often visit this Web Page, so I obviously find James Allen’s articles and points of view interesting

In Alguersuari’s case, I have to say it’s not the interest that moves me in sharing a thought, but the exact same feeling for a wasting a talent that was never properly revealed

I remember Jaime’s first races in F1 well, as he was only 19, and at the time I wondered what a hell was a teenage boy doing in a F1 car? Was he a new Hamilton to get an F1 drive so soon? Well, no he was not

He was a rookie, and he showed that several times in his first few races. In 2009 he was placed in a difficult F1 car with no preparation and only 8 races left in the season, so he didn’t show much speed, consistency or even awareness of other cars. But he was just 19!!

In 2010. his first full season at Toro Rosso, he was OK, maybe never more than an average driver, but showed good signs over the year

But I believe in 2011 we he showed enormous progress race after race, and although maybe not a prime qualifier, he was turning out to be a prime racer, with great, consistant and intelligent driving

I could never understand how Red Bull dropped him, because the potential was there to reward the investment, and they didn’t took it. It was like having all the trouble in making a cake, pouring and mixing the ingredients, and when it was just finishing growing in the oven, they opened it before it’s time, ruined it and throw it away

Maybe Riccardo is a stronger qualifier than Jaime, but I really doubt he’s a stronger racer

You see, Alonso and Räikkönen are good but not superb qualifiers, but they are both superb racers. And qualifying can be greatly improved with good training, whereas race craft is much more driver dependent

Alguersuari wasn’t a Hamilton, Vettel or Alonso, but I believe deserved to be in F1, as he had the potential to be at least as good as Button!!!

I hope some day he get’s the chance to prove me right.


Closer to the discussion:

– Jaimito missed his chance to obliterate competition, as did JEV this year. Now it will be AFC’s turn to do it next year, or else…


There are 2 good things coming out of Ricciardo’s new seat at RBR:

– British commentators will finally learn how to pronounce his family name…

– … and AFCosta will be at Toro Rosso!


It’s Ricciardo himself who wants to go by Rih-car-do instead of Rih-key-ar-do.


Rik-e-ar-do, Rich-e-ar-do, or Rik-kar-do?

Because the latter is how Dan prefers it to be pronounced, and considering it’s his name his say should be the final say.

If you’re not happy with that should we tell you how to pronounce your name?

Why are people hung up on this? Let it go.


This just in:

Toro Rosso in no rush to appoint Ricciardo replacement

Tomorrows headline:

Raikkonen’s manager seen talking to Franz Tost


Jamie – It seems you are not that fully convinced that Daniel is significantly better than the past Torro Rosso drivers or maybe other drivers in the market.

And yes we all can agree right place right time situation was very critical.

Of the current drivers on the grid, I feel Nico Hulkenberg certainly has NOT been at the right place at right time.


Despite all the comments this article stirred up…your point is well taken James, timing is everything in F1 both literally and figuratively.


This is what killed Jaime’ s career.. Marko’ s unconditional love for Seb:

Jaime did have opportunities elsewhere plus he got assurances to stay at TR.

Very sad.


The dangers of the FIA allowing sister teams in F1.


This is hilarious and predictable. Red Bull are a one man team…Vettels. Now they have a suitable pawn in the second seat who will register a few points along the way but never really challenge. I think this means Hulkenberg is definitely joining Ferrari. Oh well, so much for competition in the Red Bulls… the only competition we’ll see is if the red Bull isn’t miles faster than every other car.


“.. so much for competition in the Red Bulls”

I don’t see any competition in the other teams. For some reason that seems not to bother the people who are irate about the lack of competition at Red Bull.


Mercedes and Mclaren, yes, Ferrari and Lotus, no.


You don’t see any competition…? Rosberg and Hamilton had duels, so did Button and Perez, Di resta and Sutil, Raikkonen and Grosjean. Maybe you aren’t seeing clearly. Vettel has the fastest car and therefore should win the WDC, but fans still want to see a contest. The other teams are just fodder right now so competition with them is less important but still existent. Webber has clearly in past shown his discontent at treatment so this new teammate was a chance to break the mould. Keep clutching at straws though with your brilliant theory.


No competition at Mercedes? Lotus? McLaren?

So I guess it was all to plan that Rosberg would gain 2 wins and 3 poles, but thereafter everything must go Hamilton’s way?!?! This is just plain STUPID.

Merc are in a 3-way fight for 2nd in the WCC … they need every point they can get. If you’re complaining that the cars don’t race each other near the end of races, then I’m sorry, that’s just smart team management. The boys can race ’til the end when 2nd is sewn up in the WCC.


I happen to think JEV has much more potential than Daniel. I like Daniel but I think the only thing that he has better than JEV at the minute is experience and in 2 years time JEV will be a better more outstanding driver. Still can’t believe they didn’t take kimi tho. Kissing good bye to a constructors championship next year in my opinion.


I think red bull expected JEV to be an instant superstar so they put him in Jaime’s seat, obviously it turned out to be the wrong decision.


Really the chap who is currently in front of Ricciardo in the table and who beat him last year?


JEV scored more points and they choose Danny, it’s their performance that counts.

I do think JEV’s got great potential but I think it would’ve served Toro Roso better if they kept Jaime for another year and run JEV in Friday practice.


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I have a source that says that Renault never made an offer to JA. He offered himself at a stage he was not confident TR will keep him. Then it cooled down when he thought RB will keep him. Comparison with Grosjean isn’t right. When RG was sacked he went to win in AutoGP, GP2 and even FIA GT races. JA stayed at home waiting for F-1 teams to call him, and believing -naively- promises of a drive from teams that talk to 20 drivers a year.


I thought goferet is the only one who always comes with statistics …


(this was a response to madmax)


2011 at TR Buemi out-qualified Jamie 13-6 and in races Jamie was ahead 6-5 in races both finished.

Buemi’s two highest qualifying positions were a 6 and 7, Jamie’s were two 9s.

Buemi’s two highest races were two 7s, Jamie’s were two 8s.

Contrast against Riccardo who has shown some massive gaps in qualifying this year against Vergne. I think Riccardo is under-rated alongside Bottas especially against over rated drivers like Hulkenberg, Grosjean, Perez and Di Resta.

To sum up, I find it exceptionally hard to believe timing was all that was wrong here.


I thought goferet is the only one who always comes with statistics …


I really liked Alguersuari and I think what Marko done to him was disgusting! He was showing so much promise and he was turning into a proven racer with great race craft. I thought these were signs he could have been a future race winner.

I hope someone gives him the opportunity to return!


Since we are talking about timing, this clip marks a very important time in Jamie’s career. Perhaps it was at this very moment when Dr Marko made up his mind about Jamie’s future at RBR.

It emphasises Dr Marko’s philosophy on the 2nd RBR seat. Anyone who get’s in the way of Sebastian Vettel will not last long.


Thank you very much for this insightful information! Which incident triggered this difference in view?


Actually….I just had a thought:-)

I am looking forward to see how Helmut will be dropped from Red Bull and what is the story that they will put in place to explain his desire to “pursue other career interests”. You never know…but what an irony would it be:-)


Dietrich Mateschitz is the head of Red Bull.

Helmut Marko is Dietrich’s right hand man when it comes to F1 motorsport.

Doesn’t that tell you who is really calling the shots are Racing Bull Racing?

Hint: It isn’t Horner.


Before people have a go at Dr Helmut, people should consider his background, experience and achievements. He has personally accomplished a lot more than other participants in F1 management! We might not agree with his comments or decisions, but he does deserve respect.


What story??- he’s 70 -well past retirement age- I would think he doesn’t need one


Its a shame about Alegsuari. I hope he gets a seat back in F1 one day. Never say never.

As for RB wanting RIC over JEV I cant see the logic, other than:

1) JEV would be a threat to the golden boy, so lets have RIC and show that their young driver programme is working

2) JEV may replace the golden boy when he moves on.


I think it’s clear that Red Bull’s philosophy is to place a high priority on raw speed.

While I’m sure they can appreciate a driver’s ability to work his way through the midfield from a poor start position, they apparently would prefer a driver not need to.


Its the points that count and the facts speak for themslves last year, and so far this year, albeit closer.


Not always. Would you say that Button for instance, was better than Hamilton over 2010-12 because he scored 14 points more over that time?


The selection criteria between RIC & JEV was not just down to who qualified better or who had the most points. There were many points to be considered between the two. It’s not always just about speed.


Consistency I would have thought.


Speed is the first consideration


Effectively Ric beat J-E not on the track, but in the team HQ by getting the opportunity to drive in the test.


James’s point is the key.

Both J-E and Ric might be underperforming given their relative inexperience. However, the true test for RB was putting Ric in the RB car and seeing how he went. They could then guage that against Mark’s and Seb’s times. The interesting question would have been if they had put J-E in the car as well….


Im not so sure I see your logic. JEV’s qualifying is significantly worse than Ricciardo’s, Only have to look at silverstone, hungry and germany to see how RIC takes an inferior car and puts it in amongst the top teams. Was almost 1 sec faster than JEV in Germany and Britain and 10 places higher on the grid. As for the races Ricciardo has finished in the points 10 times JEV 6 in the last 2 seasons. Sure JEV has more points (3 over the two season so far) but when you’re scrapping for small points at the bottom of the 10 finishing in the points on more occasions seems more important to me.

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