Daniel Ricciardo believes his driving style when promoted to Red Bull in 2014 changed the approach of many drivers towards overtaking in Formula 1.
Red Bull opted for Ricciardo alongside Sebastian Vettel following Mark Webber’s retirement, with the move coinciding with the introduction of the V6 turbo power units and brake-by-wire systems. Ricciardo pulled off a number of impressive moves under braking during the season and, reflecting on his time at Red Bull ahead of his last race for the team, he believes it had an impact on other drivers too.
“I feel ’14 didn’t just shape me and my approach from then on, it changed the level of overtaking from other guys in the sport as well,” Ricciardo wrote in his Red Bull diary. “I really believe that. Not many people were doing that — coming from a long way back and trying big passing moves.
“Maybe they learned from me and the way I was racing, so perhaps I set a new level and showed people what was possible, and the drivers that were willing to try it were trying it. I realize that sounds a bit cocky, but I really do believe that. Not saying all of them can do it … but at least more of them are trying!
“It was something that I always wanted because I was always perceived by others as the nice guy, a soft touch and that sort of thing. For me to develop the reputation that was the polar opposite to what people maybe thought I was, that was even better. It takes a while to shake off something like Bahrain 2012 when I was at Toro Rosso when I got pushed around on the first lap, that was a setback to my reputation for sure. I didn’t want that feeling, and it took time to shake off.”
Abu Dhabi will be Ricciardo’s 100th and final race with Red Bull before moving to Renault, and he highlights a specific grand prix in 2014 as central to the reputation he now has on track as he won three races in his first year with the team.
“I spent the week between Brazil and Abu Dhabi on the road, so it wasn’t until I headed to the last race that I started to look back and began reminiscing about the journey with the team. There’ll be some emotion with the team and all of that, that’s natural, but the way I’m looking at it, I’m hardly retiring, I’m still racing. But there’ll be time to be nostalgic and reason to as well. It’ll be good, in a way.
“Doing 100 races, it’s gone quick. Australia 2014 doesn’t even seem that long ago. The ones I’ll remember most … you always gravitate towards the seven wins, but there’s been others as well. Of the wins, Hungary in 2014 is certainly one that was significant for me, as it marked my confidence and my hunger to win.
“Having to hunt people down, passing Lewis (Hamilton) and Fernando (Alonso) in the last few laps … that race marked the point where I felt like, yes, I belonged up at the front and I had supreme confidence and zero intimidation from anyone. It kind of set up the label of who I’ve become now, what my reputation is in F1.”