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Behind the Mercedes, Dan the man in epic race at Sakhir
Posted By: Justin Hynes  |  07 Apr 2014   |  10:06 am GMT  |  322 comments

Daniel Ricciardo’s rollercoaster season, which in the opening two races hurtled from incident to incident, finally ignited in Bahrain with the Aussie delivering an excellent drive from 13th on the grid to fourth at the flag. Indeed, with just under half a second separating the Red Bull driver from Sergio Perez in the closing stages, Ricciardo might have stood on the podium for the second time this year had the race been a lap longer.

The Perth racer went into the weekend on the back foot, knowing that wherever he qualified he’d drop 10 places back down the grid. Red Bull’s sessions began in muted fashion with Ricciardo 14th in FP1 as the team spent much of the session “playing around with a few things on the car” but in the second session the Aussie’s soft tyre tyre run netted him the day’s fourth-fastest time, three places ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel. However, he insisted that steady progress was the key prior to the race.

“During the race I will make sure my aggression is on and make sure I’m moving forward,” he said. “But in practice and qualifying not really, I’ll just do what I can to make sure we have a good car for Sunday.”

In final practice Daniel was a low-key 13th, all the attention being focused on Vettel, who spun out with 20 minutes left and missed the end-of-session quali sims.

Ricciardo commandeered the spotlight in qualifying, however. He eased through the opening segment as one of just three drivers to only use the medium tyre (the dominant Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg being the others). His progress through Q2 was even more satisfying, Ricciardo making it to the top-10 shootout in third spot as the only non-Mercedes man to get within a second of Nico Rosberg’s segment-topping time.

That pattern was repeated in Q3 with Ricciardo storming to third spot again, and again the only man to get within a second of pole-sitter Rosberg. He ended the session 0.8s  down on the German and +0.25 up on fourth-placed Valtteri Bottas.

Thirteenth place on the grid left Ricciardo plotting an attacking race.

“I don’t think we need to be conservative, we need to push, we are out of position,” he said. “If there is an opportunity to move forward I will do what I can and hopefully take away some points. At the moment it is pretty close between a two or three stop, maybe there is some room for us to try something.”

In the opening laps of the race Ricciardo struggled to make an impact on those ahead, admitting that his first stint was “pretty much follow the leader”. His cause wasn’t helped by a rash lap-nine move on Magnussen for 11th position that saw the Australian run wide.

He passed the Dane two laps later, however, with a good move at the exit of Turn 11, though the McLaren drivers tyre’s looked to have given up. Ricciardo then set of after team-mate Vettel.

And when he closed up on his team-mate, Ricciardo demonstrated once again that while he’s got the broadest smile in the paddock away from the car, behind the wheel he’s more than capable of making demands from his pit wall.

On lap 14 Vettel complained of a DRS problem and within two laps Ricciardo was on the German’s gearbox and radioing through to his team that “he was wasting time” and asking for Vettel to be moved out of the way.

The champion’s engineer Guillaume Rocquelin called through Vettel and delivered the unfamiliar message: “Daniel is quicker than you”. Vettel made it easy and Ricciardo swept past.

The battle between the team-mates was revived late in the race after the safety car was brought out by Esteban Gutierrez’s crash. Tucked in behind Vettel, Ricciardo put a lovely move on the champion into Turn One on lap 50 to steal sixth place. He then bustled past Jenson Button, though the McLaren driver was already experience the clutch issue that would see him retire two laps from the end.

Nico Hulkenberg was a less easy mark but again Ricciardo took no prisoners. His final set of options (taken on lap 35) were still working well as his fuel load lessened and the track temperatures dropped.

He forced an error out of the usually flawless Force India driver into Turn 11, took fourth and chased down Perez, who afterwards admitted that had the race gone on another lap he would likely have lost out on his first podium finish since the Italian GP of 2012.

Afterwards Ricciardo said that while Safety Car had helped he felt he would have been able to claim his first official points finish of the season regardless.

“The race went to plan. We went pretty long in the first stint and from then on it was target two-stop,” he told “The Safety Car probably helped but I think we would have made it anyway. Maybe the last couple of laps would have been… on the edge though.

“Before the race I thought we might creep into the top six if everything went well for us, so to finish fourth… that’s a pretty good day. It was a lot of fun but equally we didn’t get anything for free, we had to really work for it and that’s always a bit more rewarding: you make the moves, you move forward. I really don’t think the race could have gone any better.”

The Red Bull driver confirmed, too, that he felt he could have reeled in Perez if the race had gone on any longer.

“We got close to the podium today, I think within half a second, so I was doing all I could,” he said. The car came to me as the race went on and I was happy with how I moved up through the pack, so a good day. It was good fun to race Sebastian, it was hard but fair and we left each other room. That’s what we want from each other and we discussed it beforehand, we’re racers and that’s what we enjoy doing.”

His team were fulsome in their praise too, with Renault Sport F1’s Thierry Salvi admitting that Ricciardo had “done a good job all race… he was quite impressive” and team boss Christian Horner added that “Daniel put in a great drive and, with another lap, possibly could have made it to the podium”.

If the race confirmed anything, it’s that not only is Ricciardo capable of delivering lightning-quick qualifying laps (as evidenced regularly at Toro Rosso) but that in the right car he’s also a determined, decisive and clever racer who is able to take the fight to the champions he is now qualifying around.

Modest as ever, thought, post-race Daniel reckoned he can still do better.

“It took me a few stabs at a few guys today,” he said. “I think a couple of times I was a bit anxious. I guess I have [established myself]. It is important. Obviously Seb has been dominant in F1 for the last four years at least and it’s nice to come in and show that I can race at the front. Obviously when you have the car underneath you it gives you a lot of confidence to battle and to move forward.”

With his points on the board courtesy of a fine drive in a complex and unpredictable race, that confidence will undoubtedly now bloom.


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kenneth chapman

@ aveli…..’reasonable well???’ come on. ricci drove an absolutely cracker of a race and deserved the accolades for his achievment.

top drivers push and sometimes they exceed the limits of adhesion. that is what they do. despite this he recovered and went on to even greater heights during the race or didn’t you notice?

now we all have opinions and we are entitled to voice them but surely in this case ricci is entitled to enjoy unqualified support from those who do understand the difference between ordinary and extraordinary…on the day.


I think you have forgotten that @aveli has already decided his driver of the day for every day.

Daniel drove very well, in some ways his over-harsh penalty did him the favour of giving him people to overtake. I wonder how he will fare once RBR stop costing him points and places. He seems to have taken a step up in performance compared to last year. It should be a spur Sebastian.

kenneth chapman

@neilmurg…. yes, i didn’t forget what aveli said however i thought that his comment was less than complimentary considering the ‘racing’ that occurred in the final ten laps.

i have just finished watching a total replay and second time around i was even more impressed with his duel with vettel in the closing stages.

whether or not his form can be extended throughout the season we are yet to see but horner has already stated, ‘ricci is top drawer’ that is a far better summary than previously stated.

the ‘honey badger’ tag is well suited to his style.


ricciardo drove reasonable well on sunday but he scared himself and drove off track when he tried to overtake raikkonen by out braking him and ended up scaring himself.

i notice martin brundle has chosen ricciardo as his driver of the day and wonder why. many other drivers drove perfect races without errors and yet he ignored them all. i also noticed how subdued he was while watching hamilton do his magic.


Ricciardo moved from 13th to 4th position, that’s better than hos 4 time champion team mate and was racing along the way, also making a clever call when behind Seb.

That’s probably why Martin Brundle made him his driver of the day.


i must say that i was impressed by his call but vettel shouldn’t have let him by because they were racing each other. if vettel had kept him behind, he could’ve finished ahead of ricciardo. brundle was subdued while hamilton made that recover take at the end of his first stint, telling me hat he has a pungent hatred for hamilton. coulthard said brilliant 3 times with enthusiasm.


What a drive! I thought Dan would be good but not ‘this’ good! He’s beena revelation.

kenneth chapman

‘swings and roundabouts’


Hmm. I suspect if Vettel had been the one demanding that Riccardo be moved out of his way there would be a whole lot more gnashing of teeth. Once again we see the blatant double standards with which team orders are viewed.

So far this season Vettel’s been the RB driver with all the car problems, first in Australia and here again in Bahrain. Again, if Riccardo was having all the mechanical issues the conspiracy theories would be flying thick and fast.

Vettel’s faster lap of the race was on lap 18, so he had obvious engine issues. Riccardo looks like being a very handy driver and is rubbishing all the dismissive claims made about him last year when RB chose him over Kimi. But so far this season, when both cars have been working properly, he’s been second best to Seb.


What do you think about Seb pushing Massa out of the track?

If it was the other way around, for sure penalty would follow.


It wasnt an epic race by any sense of the word.

It was a two car race and that is all – with the rest of the mid filed racing behind.

Merc are over 2 secs a lap faster than anyone. This will all be over by mid season.

Well done FIA for giving us what will be a bland season overall.

Moreover, well done Merc for blowing away the competition.


I think people ate writing off Vettel at their peril, no doubt he can drive but likely needs some time to adjust to the new regs. We all know he needs an optimised car to get the best out of him.

That said, Ricciardo is showing a clean pair of heels, great pace and a cool head.


And Vettel is starting to show a few cracks at the edges,complaining the car is “slow”.I thought it looked like he was falling for the old “overdrive the car on entry to make up for low top end”,making his exits slow & therefore costing more terminal speed. He did have DRS issues,but Dan didn’t even use it to pass him,he got him at a point where in previous years Vettel was untouchable.Just goes to show how good Dan really is!!


The sign a great driver is the ability to grab an inferior car and challenge the front runners. Ricciardo looks to have the goods.


Don’t take this the wrong way. Love Dan, great drive, but I really felt for Hulk. Safety car at that time really showed what the extra 7Kg or so can cost you when everyone is bunched up and on low fuel. It really put the driver weight issue into a different perspective for me.


Who is the blonde girl who stands next to Daniel during paddock interviews? I think all the drivers have a media handler or something, but she loves standing close and can’t keep her eyes off him.


It’s that smile, it hypnotises 🙂


True, I notice James also blushes a little when chatting to Dan in the paddock.


It may be early days yet, but I remember (with a few others) rebutting a lot of anti RIC comments mid last year, particularly from Kimi fans, and already feel vindicated.


James, off topic, read an article about scrapping fuel flow limit from Autosport and it’s mentioned it’s dangerous as drivers lifting throttle at the end of the straights can be dangerous and also the weight problems with taller heavier drivers… hoping Mark will be writing an article on these issues for a clearer understanding. Thanks.



Lap time analysis please.

I watched on tv as well as the F1 APP and noticed for the majority of the race RIC was 0.5 secs a lap faster than VET and in fact most around him.. Dissapointed a 2 of my comments deleted that i would have thought were reasonable and appropriate for the forum.


They may well be in the backlog, we’ve had 1000s to deal with, Bear with us


Its a biased post ! Clear James has always been a Dan Ricci fan. Read a few blogs here but this was over the limit. How was Dan the man when Sergio scored a podium and Dan only came through thanks to the Safety Car??


Sergio started 4th on an adjusted grid that had the first 8 cars powered by Mercedes and finished 3rd.

Danile, thanks to the Maylasian stewards, stated 13th and was 7th if I am correct when the safety car came out. There were a few World Champions dispatched along the way, Alonso, Raikkonen, Button, Vettel as well as Massa who lost a championship by a point and you think Sergio drove a better race.

Nothing against the guy but 1 more lap and he would not have made the podium due to the teams two stop strategy. They bet on a race without a safety car and nearly come unstuck.

kenneth chapman

@ anandR…..obviously james has a better eye for talent. are you saying that a drive from 13th to 4th was not epic? as for the SC everyone in the race with the exception of hamilton benefited by closing up the gaps.

you might care to reconsider your accusation that james is biased.


I still maintain that. If Sergio was boosted by Mercedes, why wasn’t Nico Hulkenberg, the Williams etc around the podium. I just find it unfair to other drivers when someone who finished 4th due to a safety car is given the drive of the day.

Dan is good, but good over a season, will see. Good at handling the pressure of chasing down a world championship, we will see. Also he had nothing to loose in the race starting so far back.

kenneth chapman

wrong…he had everything to lose and he simply drove the wheels off the car to get a result. what the end of season results will be is a great unknown and where ricci finishes up is also a great unknown. that said, based on his form to date, then he is looking highly likely to do well.

if you can’t see the wood for the trees maybe time to visit the eye doctor!


Sergio Perez was flattered by his car and his Mercedes Power Unit.


Wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Reads like you need to get back into it.


I thought Red Bull should have gone for Kimi instead of Dan.

I was wrong. Hats off to H.Marko and company for the good call.

Dan always brightens up the weekend – so full of smiles and positivism.

And very sharp – its not “guys get him out of my way” it’s “guys we need to make a decision here”. Superb!


Awesome that he’s ticking all the boxes so quickly…. RBR potentially walking from the sport? Not with this new Ambassador! If Dan keeps it up the pendulum will shift towards him sooner than anyone expected, whether Seb walks or not….. His attributes are the perfect compliment for a brand that could do with some repair, especially post multi 21 affair!

Love ur work RIC!

David in Sydney

Dan was cheaper. And with less attitude.


I can foresee “Team Daniel” at Red Bull in a couple of years like we had team Sebastian at Toro Rosso in 2008.


It is nice to see Daniel doing so well with what most people viewed as a daunting task prior to the season jumping into Webbers seat to take on Seb.

Doing it with good humour and humility has only added to the total package and the Red Bull marketing people must think all their Christmases have come at once.

As for Seb playing the team game I think I will reserve my judgement until we see them racing for the whole cake and not just the minor placing crumbs. It’s easy to move over when you cannot defend because of issues with the car.

I don’t think that will happen when a potential win is on the table. Remember “Multi 21” was the second race in the season in a year he won the championship by heaps.


I don’t know why people still complain about multi 21 and Vettel when situation in here and Malaysia were totally different

1. Vettel qualified in POLE while Webber qualified a lowly 5th

2. Team decides to pit Vettel for Slicks earlier and this results in him in losing the position to Webber through a series of pit stops.

3. Webber actually never overtook Vettel to rightfully claim the lead for the race.

4. So people are actually saying that a driver who had qualified on POLE and was faster through out the race and had to concede the lead not because other driver overtook him, but because of team’s pit stop strategies should not reclaim the position by overtaking?? Funny..

5. If Webber or Alonso or Hamilton had done the same thing, people would have applauded them for standing up to their team and keeping up the true racing spirits( Just like People are applauding Massa now for ignoring team orders )

6. Both of them had turned their engines down and Vettel had faster tyres.

To conclude, he was racing, he was faster and he won the race deservedly


You missed the point mate. Have another read


I suspect Perth’s Ric will be like a new Vettel in RBR. He’s been so consistent by merit despite the disqualification from Melbourne. This lad seems to have a smile as infectious as Vettel when he was rising until he won 4 WDC and has been receiving so much negative comments. Congrats to Ric for his fine start to the season and wish him well throughout the year. Respect to Vettel without making a fuss when he had to let Ric through, and don’t rule out Vettel as I suspect he has some technical issues of late. This year’s car is so complicated that a little bit of this and that can give drivers a hard time, so it’s good to read as much articles after each race as to what happened technically when a good driver performance suddenly drops.

Leslie D'Amico

A phrase that will live in infamy, “______ is quicker/faster than you”



There was no mention of the fuel flow monitors. Were there any dramas?


David in Sydney

He’s doing well. Better than I expected. But then he is a British F3 Champion against Chilton, Ericsson and Bottas, so he can drive.


Good article. A clear focus on one of the stars of the race.


I remember James was talking this kid up a few years ago.

It was in 2010 I think.

Any more predictions?


“The champion’s engineer Guillaume Rocquelin called through Vettel and delivered the unfamiliar message: “Daniel is quicker than you”. Vettel made it easy and Ricciardo swept past.”

Loved every minute of this race, especially the above.

With the Mercs being allowed to race this confirms my view that RB have been bad for the sport in recent years.

There just hasn’t been any point watching with the procession led from front by now cry-baby SV.

So Dan show him how it’s really done.

Best race in years.

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