Daniel Ricciardo Reveals How Helmut Marko Broke Out News of His ‘Wild’ F1 Debut

Published 08/24/2021, 6:33 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Hungarian Grand Prix – Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary – July 29, 2021 McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix REUTERS/Florion Goga


Daniel Ricciardo is awaiting his 200th Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps this weekend. And it has undeniably been an incredible career so far for the Australian. Having raced for teams like Red Bull, Renault, and now, McLaren, Ricciardo is quite the target for many other teams on the F1 grid.

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And his journey to the 200th Grand Prix kindled in 2011. But, shockingly, it wasn’t with Toro Rosso as many had anticipated. Instead, it was with a struggling HRT (Hispania Racing Team). The Honey Badger replaced Narain Karthikeyan from the British Grand Prix.

Looking back at his debut season, Ricciardo opened up about the phone call with Dr. Helmut Marko that officially kicked off his career in F1 as a racing driver.

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What did Daniel Ricciardo say?

During a podcast, Ricciardo revealed that it was Marko who called him up to affirm that he would be racing in place of Karthikeyan at Silverstone, which was then a week away.

It was wild. But, I do remember, so I was in the house, I was living in England,” Ricciardo said while featuring in the ‘In the Fast Lane‘ podcast. “And my parents were there. And I saw Dr. Marko on the phone. I was like, ‘Alright! This is gonna be interesting’.

SINGAPORE: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme after qualifying in second position during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Singapore at Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

I walked into the living room and he told me. And I was like, ‘Yeah’. I walked into the kitchen where my parents were and my mum knew straight away, as a mother knows. They just know when something’s up and she was like, ‘What’s up?’

And I was like ‘I’m racing in F1 next weekend’,” added.

Ricciardo was ready to wait until the end of 2012

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Ricciardo apparently wanted to start his F1 career with Toro Rosso and was ready to wait until the end of the season. However, Red Bull weren’t keen on keeping the Australian idle, hence offered him one of the seats at HRT. And at the end of the 2011 season, Ricciardo moved to his much-yearned Toro Rosso team.

HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY – Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Red Bull Racing walks in the Paddock during previews ahead of the Formula One Grand Prix of Germany at Hockenheimring in Hockenheim, Germany. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

I was a Toro Rosso reserve driver that year and I knew there were some talks maybe about were they gonna keep the current Toro Rosso line-up for the whole season? So, I was like if I’m gonna get a chance, I’m gonna wait through the year. It’s gonna be in a Toro Rosso,” he said.

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Ricciardo only spent a couple of seasons at Toro Rosso until the end of 2013, before being promoted to Red Bull, replacing Mark Webber. Overall, with Ricciardo holding onto 199 starts in F1, can he manage to pull off a stellar weekend at Spa to celebrate his milestone?

Watch Story: When F1 Drivers Had a Blast on Top Gear Featuring Hamilton, Vettel & Ricciardo

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Rohit Kumar

1143 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

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