In 2014, Daniel Ricciardo had the Grand Prix world at his feet, claiming three wins in his debut season as well as a number of podium finishes. He had disposed Sebastian Vettel as the face of Red Bull Racing, and it was meant to be the start of a very exciting era for the Australian.
Fast forward two years and things have changed a great deal for the worse, albeit due to no fault of his own. Mechanical issues plagued his 2015 campaign, one where he didn’t win a race, and only appeared on the podium on two occasions - leaving him in eighth place in the standings.
Ricciardo, known for his jovial nature has admitted that last year was a tough challenge, but feels he will be better from the experience.
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“It’s testing but I feel like I dealt with it a lot better in the second half of the year. If you get frustrated, it can hinder you as a driver, as well as the team so it’s about managing so many different things,” Ricciardo said last month.
The 26-year-old is unlikely to be a title threat this season, with the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg tipped to be dominant again. Red Bull are also expected to come under an increased level of threat from their sister team Toro Rosso, thanks to their use of a Ferrari engine.
Meanwhile, Ricciardo's team will be continuing with their Renault partnership, although they have been reassured reliability issues have been sorted out.
Ricciardo will be trying his hardest to make the podium at his home Grand Prix, a feat no Australian has achieved since it became part of the calendar. In 2014 he finished second, only to be disqualified after the race after he was found to have exceeded the maximum allowed fuel flow. Last year he finished sixth but was well off the pace.
The man he replaced in the driver's seat at Red Bull, countryman Mark Webber has publicly backed Ricciardo to win the world title in his career.
Webber has revealed how pleased he was to see the Australian flag continue to fly in Formula One post his retirement and believes Ricciardo has the capability to win championships.
"He's got now a lot of experience so he's now one of the most experienced guys at the front pushing for victories and pushing for championships. He's definitely got championships in him in the future, and if he gets the right scenario on his doorstep, he'll capture that I'm sure."
For now though, Ricciardo will just be grateful for a little bit of luck this season and a couple of race wins may not be out of the question.
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