If there was a contest to find out the most underrated driver on the grid, then Daniel Ricciardo would make an excellent case. The Aussie is rolling this season. The Honey badger has seen not one but two podiums.
No one can argue against that. He hit a slight roadblock with his ability to overtake and brake late last season. On recapturing that form, he said –
“Last year it was still fun, even though we didn’t really get the results we were after, it was still fun to build with a new team. This year it’s definitely been more fun because that building has delivered some fantastic results.
“2016 was a really good year, I remember with Red Bull. So this is probably the best, or the most satisfying, since then.”
You appreciate the things that you can’t have anymore. The pandemic-induced break fuelled the fire in him –
“I’m loving racing. I think that heightened from the lockdown and missing the competition for a longer off-season. So having it taken away I think made my desire to come back obviously a lot stronger.”
“At the start of the year, it looked like maybe I was bidding for a world championship. And then mid-year I realized I wanted to move on, and then towards the end of the year it was DNF after DNF.
“So there were a lot of emotions that year. To this day, I think that was the toughest year for me emotionally, and how it played with me a little.”
If given the right car – yes, he can. Not only has he proven that he’s a fantastic driver at Renault, he’s shown he can uplift the entire team.
Not just champions but multiple champions à la Ayrton Senna, Hamilton, and Schumacher exhibit those qualities. Restoring the old glory days of McLaren will do his legacy no harm. Prepare to bring out the ‘Shoey’?