|Beat team mate in qualifying||12/19|
|Beat team mate in race||6/14|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||536/966|
|Daniel Ricciardo 2015 form guide|
Was the Red Bull RB11 not capable of snatching the kind of victories Daniel Ricciardo scored last year? Did the cards not fall his way? Or was his driving not up to scratch?
The latter was not usually the case, even if Ricciardo has slipped four places from holding the top sport 12 months ago. The Red Bull-Renault was clearly a weaker proposition, and opportunities to win were even rarer – probably non-existent.
Singapore was the team’s best chance and Ricciardo duly put the car on the front row. He needed a Safety Car-free run to make the most of his tyre life, however, and unsurprisingly it didn’t happen. In Hungary the Safety Car played in his favour and a strong finish was in the offing, but contact from Nico Rosberg sent him into the pits for a new front wing.
The United States Grand Prix was one of his finest performances, and yielded one of few examples of a healthy Mercedes being overtaken by a rival as Ricciardo pounced on Lewis Hamilton to take the lead. Wet conditions brought out the best of car and driver, but as the track dried out he inevitably slipped backwards.
It was a frustrating season from the word go for Ricciardo. He got off the line well at Melbourne but as soon as he put his foot down the Renault’s poor power delivery ruined his run to the first corner. That was basically the story of his year.
Monaco was another track where Red Bull were more competitive. However an error with his power unit in Q3 prevented a higher qualifying position, and having slipped behind his team mate at the start he was always going to struggle to get back ahead. A superb and opportunistic overtaking move on a thoroughly unimpressed Kimi Raikkonen was the highlight of his day.
On more typical circuits Ricciardo’s options were usually limited to pitting early to take advantage of the Red Bull’s superior tyre life as a means of getting ahead of those with superior straight-line speed. Ricciardo did this well, barring a few indifferent races early in the year, but wasn’t always able to collect the results he deserved: that dreaded power unit packed up at Spa and a suspension failure put him out while running in the top five in Russia.
Italy exemplified Ricciardo’s tenacity as he climbed from 19th on the grid to pass Marcus Ericsson for eight as they sprinted for the line. The rewards were more meagre than they had been last year, but still he gave his all.
View race-by-race notes on Daniel Ricciardo
Australia – The trademark grin was seriously tested by Red Bull’s persistent problems with a Renault engine that lacks both reliability and drive-ability. The former meant he only managed 19 laps before qualifying, and the latter was a persistent aggravation, particularly when it spoiled an otherwise good start to the race. Under the circumstances he did well to qualify sixth, but the fact he finished behind a Sauber shows Renault have a lot of work to do.
Malaysia – Fourth on the grid in a wet qualifying gave further cause to believe Red Bull’s shortcomings are in the chassis department rather than the engine. But in the race it was a problem with his brakes which held him back – a string of cars demoted Ricciardo’s RB11 leaving him last of the points-scorers.
China – Decent qualifying position was squandered after poor start as the car fell into anti-stall and was forced to try and fight his way back through the field but was held up by team mate Kvyat in the opening stint. Ran the longest stint of the race on Soft tyres but had a tough time passing Ericsson’s Sauber in the final stint and inherited ninth following Verstappen’s retirement.
Bahrain – Seventh on the grid behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams looked about as good as the RB11 was capable of, as did sixth in the race after Massa’s problems. Ricciardo’s Renault engine failed spectacularly as he accelerated out of the final corner and though he was able to take the chequered flag without losing a place there will inevitably be a price to pay for it later in the year.
Spain – Covered just 13 laps on Friday due to yet more Renault power unit problems on his car. Judged tenth on the grid to be “my worst quali since I started with the team” but was much more satisfied after a trouble-free run to seventh. With Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams ahead, it’s doubtful there was more to be had.
Monaco – Was “frustrated” after qualifying as a mis-communication over engine settings cost him what he felt should have been third on the grid. He then had to give best to his team mate at turn one and was jumped by Raikkonen during the pit stops. He fought back, however, making the same late switch to another set of super-softs which scuppered Hamilton’s race. He muscled his way past Raikkonen and was waved through by Kvyat, but having been unable to pass Hamilton he then had to let Kvyat back through again.
Canada – Last year’s winner was downcast after only managing ninth on the grid behind his team mate at a track where Red Bull’s greatest weakness was exposed. He slipped out of the points in the race and was at a loss to understand why. “We just couldn’t get any pace out of the car,” he said. “It is something we will look at to understand what the cause was.”
Austria – It was always going to be a tough home race for Red Bull and it got tougher when Ricciardo had to take his fifth engine of the year and the subsequent ten-place grid penalty. Had a new chassis after his problems in Canada but lost brake temperature in qualifying and didn’t make the cut for the top ten for the first time since joining Red Bull. Ran a huge, 50-lap stint on the softs so he could attack at the end on super-softs after taking his pit stop penalty. This worked out well: he was able to take Nasr for the final point but ran out of time to demote Perez.
Britain – Still seems unsettled and wasn’t quite on Kvyat’s pace in practice, but would have been seventh on the grid had he not been among the many drivers to lose a lap time for running wide. Arguably triggered the first-lap collision which put three drivers out, but was cleared, he then retired before half-distance with an electrical problem.
Hungary – Hampered by an engine failure on Friday afternoon but qualified strongly. The only driver to save a set of soft tyres in Q1, two rapid laps in Q3 secured him fourth on the grid, just three-hundredths of a second off Vettel. Having struggled to get away from the dirty side of the grid he was hit by Bottas at turn – the first of three collisions on that part of the track. After Kvyat waved him through Ricciardo passed Hulkenberg but after switching to medium tyres he couldn’t keep Hamilton’s Mercedes behind. That paid off when the Safety Car appeared, however, as he was able to switch to softs and go on the attack. He was hit by Hamilton as he passed the Mercedes, but was still able to go after Rosberg. Again there was contact, which forced Ricciardo in for a new front wing and cost him a shot at victory.
Belgium – Red Bull said they wouldn’t be as quick on Saturday as they looked on Friday, and so it proved. Ricciardo was the only one of the pair to reach Q3, where he was the quickest non-Mercedes driver, starting a strong fifth. He started well, passing Bottas and Rosberg, and an early pit stop briefly got him in front of Perez. Having switched to the medium he was potentially in a strong position for the second half of the race, but a power unit problem forced him out on the 20th lap.
Italy – Emerged from a trying weekend for Red Bull – which included one Renault engine failing just a few laps after it had been installed – with points for eighth place. An excellent start from 19th on the grid and a very long opening stint on medium tyres was they key to his progress, and an opportunistic pass on Marcus Ericsson at Parabolica on the last lap capped a recovery driver which deserved a greater reward.
Singapore – Revelled in having a competitive car for once, splitting the Ferraris in qualifying, and while his final Q3 run wasn’t perfect he wasn’t going to find the 0.543 seconds to Vettel. He was content to let the Ferrari pull away in the opening stages, then began chipping away at Vettel’s lead after lap seven. But how this fight would have been resolved will forever remain a mystery as the Safety Car kept Red Bull from realising their full potential.
Japan – A top five start was possible, Ricciardo believes, but he qualified seventh. He started superbly but with Massa and Raikkonen converging in front of him contact was made, leaving him with a puncture and floor damage. After pitting for new rubber on the first lap he did well to complete the race distance with just one further pit stop, but without a Safety Car points were never going to happen.
Russia – Said he had sacrificed qualifying performance to have an optimal race set-up and it looked like it would pay off after the team gambled on pitting under the second Safety Car. That helped him up to fourth, but after soaking up 15 laps of pressure from Bottas the Williams finally got through. How long he could have kept Raikkonen behind we’ll never know because a suspension fault put him out shortly afterwards.
United States – Vindicated Red Bull’s decision not to use the new Red Bull engine and avoid a grid penalty by qualifying third and passing the Mercedes drivers to lead. When the track dried Red Bull were vulnerable, but Ricciardo was unfortunate to be hit by both Hulkenberg and Sainz, leaving him tenth at the flag. Had it stayed wet a win was on.
Mexico – Largely left his car settings alone in qualifying as he tried to make sense of the fluctuating track conditions. Under pressure from Williams with their high straight line speeds, Red Bull pitted Ricciardo later than the FW37s giving him a tyre advantage which he wielded to brilliant effect when he dived past Massa. However he was unhappy to use another set of soft tyres when the Safety Car gave them a free pit stop – he wanted to give mediums a try.
Brazil – Used Renault’s revised engine but might have had cause to regret it as he found himself 0.4kph down on Kvyat in qualifying. That plus a ten-place grid penalty left him 19th on the grid. With no help from Safety Cars and little benefit from the new engine, points never looked likely.
Abu Dhabi – Said he would be happy with a top five starting position which he duly delivered. Hulkenberg passed him at the start but Ricciardo reclaimed the place a few laps later with some late braking, but couldn’t do the same to the other Force India. Unsurprisingly he wasn’t able to keep Vettel behind when the Ferrari appeared in his mirrors on super-soft tyres, which meant he finished sixth.
Over to you
Pretty much extracted the maximum out of a uncompetitive and unreliable car. Lost a lot of points thanks to unreliability.
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