I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I’ve been saying Daniel Ricciardo is one of the best drivers in Formula 1 for years. The rest of the world finally caught up with me after watching last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. To bring you up to speed, on lap 33, the safety car was deployed so the stewards could clean up the debris left by the Toro Rosso crash. Red Bull saw their opportunity and called both Verstappen and Ricciardo into the pits for fresh tyres to finish the race. Mercedes and Ferrari, both ahead of Red Bull at the time, had already passed the pit lane entry and weren’t able to take advantage of the slower laps to pit. On fresh soft tyres, Danny Ric put on a clinic in overtaking. Raikkonen, better luck next time. Verstappen, too young. Hamilton, toast. Vettel, not even close. Bottas, see ya. Ricciardo cruised to his first win of the year passing all the marquis names in F1.
Following Ricciardo’s win there has naturally been a lot of press on where Ricciardo will drive in 2019. Ricciardo’s contract with Red Bull ends after this season and it looks like he will have his pick of the field for 2019. Of course, everyone has an opinion on where our boy will end up. Nico Rosberg, claiming Ferrari has the best car, says the Aussie should sign with Ferrari. Martin Brundle is penciling the Honey Badger into Mercedes. But once again you’ll hear it from me first. Daniel Ricciardo will be back at Red Bull next season and here is why.
Sure, Ferrari has a good car, but if this year tells us anything it’s that the best car this year isn’t always the best car next year. Plus I wouldn’t be surprised if Vettel has some number one driver language written into his contract. Ferrari abuses the talent of Raikkonen to further Vettel’s chances. I wouldn’t want to be in that position and neither does Ricciardo. Next option is Merc. I will admit Mercedes is an interesting option. They have obviously demonstrated the ability to produce a top notch car year in and year out. Once again, I don’t think Ricciardo wants to deal with the potential number 1 driver dynamic with Lewis Hamilton. You could argue there is the same situation at Red Bull with Verstappen but Max is still young. Red Bull can control him. Hamilton, on the other hand, is a wild card and headcase. It was only two years ago that Hamilton ignored team orders in an attempt to slow teammate Nico Rosberg down. Final reason…I think Hamilton is afraid of Ricciardo. He will block any attempt by Merc to bring Ricciardo on board. That leaves us with Red Bull (I don’t think I need to address the rest of the teams for obvious reasons). Red Bull doesn’t always have the best car but they are showing promise. Bottom line, Ricciardo’s best chance to win the Driver’s Championship is with Red Bull. He knows this. In fact, he has an outside chance this year. As long as Red Bull continues to improve each and every race, Ricciardo is back no questions asked. Red Bull is the old, broken in glove that fits perfectly. Excited to see you back in the blue and yellow next year, Danny.