Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, Monza, 2019

2019 F1 driver rankings #7: Daniel Ricciardo

2019 F1 season review

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Daniel Ricciardo took little time to assert his supremacy at Renault and start producing some of the top-drawer performances the team was hoping to see when they prised him away from Red Bull.

He admitted it took several races for him to feel fully comfortable in his new environment. But he soon started showing team mate Nico Hulkenberg the way, out-qualifying him seven times in the first eight races. Ricciardo’s qualifying lap in Canada was particularly inspired, good enough to beat Pierre Gasly’s Red Bull and even Valtteri Bottas’s Mercedes.

The RS19 was not regularly capable of feats like this but when it was, Ricciardo usually took full advantage. At Monza he passed Hulkenberg early on and pulled clear of his team mate to claim Renault’s best result of the season with fourth. It was one of four occasions Ricciardo led the midfield home – something Hulkenberg never managed once.

But the pressures of racing in the midfield told at times. Ricciardo made a few mistakes of the kind we seldom saw from him during his Red Bull years. It started at the very first race, where he ripped off his front wing on a bump mere seconds after the start.

At times he appeared to be trying too hard to make his Renault perform the kind of heroics his old car was capable of. In Mexico after attempting a late-braking move on Sergio Perez the Racing Line driver joked Ricciardo could only perform such feats in a Red Bull. The joke had a ring of truth about it.

A lunge down the inside of Daniil Kvyat at Baku was similarly over-optimistic. Ricciard then provided one of the season’s best ‘blooper reel’ moments by reversing into his rival in the run-off area.

In France he got greedy on the final lap and committed two fouls as he passed Lando Norris and Kimi Raikkonen. This was highly unusual for Ricciardo, who’s previously tended to steer clear of penalties, yet scored more than anyone bar Sebastian Vettel this year.

Daniel Ricciardo

Beat team mate in qualifying14/21
Beat team mate in race10/15
Races finished15/21
Laps spent ahead of team mate686/1078
Qualifying margin-0.07s

By the second half of the season it was clear Ricciardo had a much better measure of the Renault, and he turned in some of his best performances of the year. Austin was a highlight, where he passed Norris early on, then held on to the ‘best of the rest’ spot under fierce pressure over the closing laps. Mexico, Perez’s ribbing notwithstanding, was another fine drive.

Both Renault drivers had to put up with frustrations on the technical side including a spate of failures during races. At Suzuka both the team’s cars were thrown out after the Suzuka race on a contentious technicality. Ricciardo already had some experience of this, being demoted to the back of the grid in Singapore, an especially frustrating venue to take such a penalty.

Ricciardo saw more of the cut-and-thrust of the midfield fight this year than he probably expected to when he signed for Renault in the summer of 2018. But he proved himself capable of being the leader the team needs.

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Over to you

What’s your verdict on Daniel Ricciardo’s 2019 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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46 comments on “2019 F1 driver rankings #7: Daniel Ricciardo”

  1. That moment where you are quite excellent but only come up 7th.

    Few years ago 2014 he was the hottest property of F1. Just defeating then 4 time world champion over a season, a champion who we all then regarded to be as good and maybe better than Lewis. Stat wise he was certainly the second coming of Michael Schumacher.

    Now 5 years latter Daniels is … a “meh” driver by F1 standards. It is very hard to stand out when you drive a slow car. If he does fantastically well that might mean a 7th place, where a few years ago it would be a race victory.

    The moment you move out of a team becouse you are driving against a stronger driver you are done.

    1. RIC was guilty of a mistake that is all too easy to make. He believed a lot of the over hype from Sky sports, and he over sold himself. Then, suddenly he found those supposed top team offers had all evaporated like salt water in the desert.

      His best option was to remain where he was at RB. But his ego told him he could not. So on he moved to……. the mid field.

      1. He’s very good, no hype. He started poorly at Renault, then he managed to come on top. Pretty sure the amount of money Renault offered him had a really big say in his decision. According to various sources, he’s the 3rd best paid racer, significantly more than VER, multiple times more than Hulkenberg, LEC or BOT. So, had he stayed at RBR, not only VER would have got the best of him in most races but, the salary would have been half the sum he currently gets, in the best case scenario, because RBR wouldn’t have payed him even close to what they pay to VER. Then again, even if RBR builds a champ car, most chances are VER will be champ, also getting most support from the team. At Renault tho, he’s the team leader and there’re more chances that Renault might build a winning car than winning a champ for RBR while VER is there.

        1. @mg1982 people are talking from their gut feeling way too much. “Salary would have been half the sum he currently gets” – how do you figure that? Do you have inside information?
          Are you aware Ricciardo has gone on record stating the financial offer from RBR was quite alright and wasn’t that far off from what Renault are paying him, and for him wasn’t a deciding factor?

        2. The only time Verstappen got the better of Ricciardo is in 2018 when Ricciardos car failed 8 times. Other than that he was supreme. Give a better car to the man and he’ll win the title. To say that because he’s in a slower car so now he’s meh is a stupid statement.

      2. It was about positioning himself for the 2nd Mercedes seat. To be the new Bottas after Bottas. At Red Bull there would be too many episodes where he wouldn’t always be mr. nice guy team player.

      3. I have a slightly different opinion. The jury was not out on whether Max was definitively the better driver at Red Bull when Ricciardo decided to move. At that point of time he had to hedge his bets and just switch (much like what Vettel did at the end of 2014) or risk spending another year and conclusively finding out. Then he would have really been done. Instead he’s chosen to ‘demote’ himself for 2 years with the hope that in 2021 far reaching changes are coming and he may (a) adapt to them better than most; and (b) find himself in a Merc or Ferrari. I think he played it well and we should revisit this after 2021 is done and dusted.

    2. It is very hard to stand out when you drive a slow car.

      Not sure if it is that hard when you are truly ‘quite excellent’, @jureo.
      Leclerc did it last year (ranked 3rd) in the Sauber, and Verstappen in the STR.
      This year Ricciardo simply wasn’t as strong as in previous seasons.

      1. @coldfly Well Leclerc is just about similarly faster than Vettel as Ricciardo was. And for the same reasons aswell, might I add.

        Faster when the car is poorly handling and hard to drive, able to extract more in quali and better when racing under pressure and wheel to wheel.

        1. Well Leclerc is just about similarly faster than Vettel as Ricciardo was.

          Are you referring to 2014, @jureo?
          I think Ricciardo was #1 in the ranking that season.
          It all makes sense to me, Ricciardo had excellent seasons and was accordingly ranked, and in 2019 had a slightly less impressive season and again accordingly ranked IMO.

    3. I thought that was quite a harsh comment, but actually the quote: “The moment you move out of a team because you are driving against a stronger driver you are done” does run quite true tbh. Vettel did the same thing of course.

      1. @john-h well no. Vettel left because he got an excellent offer from his dream team and RBR were done winning anyway.

  2. In Mexico after attempting a late-braking move on Sergio Perez the Racing Line driver joked Ricciardo could only perform such feats in a Red Bull.

    RaceFans exclusive?

      1. Racing Line


        1. Point taken ;)

          1. It adds a new dimension to Racing ;)

            What’s next, Racing Plane? Racing Space?

        2. @hollidog – ah, didn’t catch that first time around :)

    1. Right, RedBull is amazing under braking and then acceleration. Wonderful for today’s stop and go tracks.

      But also trying to Overtake Perez in Mexico takes extra skill.

  3. Sainz will end up higher on this years list….
    Sainz has been firmly beaten by Hulkenberg last season, yeah.. quite firmly.
    Hulkenberg gave Dan a good fight, but Dan was simply better..by some margin as well.

    So I truly believe Sainz would not have beaten Ricciardo, though based on consistency Sainz did a better job…
    Ricciardo, together with Vettel had quite a rough season and topped the charts with both 7 penalties.
    In a better car Dan would have ranked top 5…..I still see him a top 5 driver, as whole the season was rough

    1. I can’t believe proper formula 1 fans still go by this logic

  4. Last year:
    Hulkenberg hit the wall in Baku and crashed at Spa. These incidents were his fault when it matters (qualifying/race).
    “Nico Hulkenberg’s second full season at Renault was a year of feast or famine. When the car was up to it he usually delivered strong results. But he was absent from the points in nearly half of the races and had rather too many crashes.”
    12th Hulkenberg
    13th Sainz

    This year:
    Ricciardo crashed in Australia.
    Ricciardo hit Norris and Hulkenberg in Bahrain.
    Ricciardo crashed in Baku, forced off the track Grosjean & Norris in France and passed Raikkonen off the track during the same race.
    Ricciardo forced off the track Giovinazzi in Singapore and they crashed as a result.
    Ricciardo crashed with Magnussen in Brazil and wasted a potential podium shot.

    7th Ricciardo
    15th Hulkenberg

    The objectivity clearly isn’t there.

    1. @rafal Does it really need to be pointed out that this is a ranking of factors besides simply who had the fewest crashes?

      1. Once it matters and once not? I hate double standards.

        Don’t want to be impolite with my comments, but I just don’t see cohesion in your rankings. Another example below.
        Last year Hulkenberg won a midfield “crown” using a weaker car than Sainz this year and against a stronger teammate and he was much lower in the ranking than Sainz this year.

        1. He didn’t win it this year, did he?

          That’s like saying Ricciardo beat Verstappen and won races, so he should be ranked higher than Max this year. Except that all happened in 2016, not now.

          1. I compared Hulkenberg’s 2018 position to Sainz’s 2019 position. I don’t mean Hulkenberg should be higher this year, because he was “best of the rest” last year.

    2. @rafal Umm… he’s ranked 7th. Not particularly high, so I really do t understand what you’re complaining about.

      1. @justrhysism, it is more the question of whether Hulkenberg really should be ranked eight places lower than Ricciardo when you consider the relative seasons that they had.

        That eight place gap is the joint third largest gap between team mates on the grid – only Russell and Perez have been ranked further ahead of their team mates than Ricciardo has, and it’s the same as the gap between Kimi and Giovinazzi.

        As others have pointed out, Keith was rather hard on some other drivers for their performances and for being involved in collisions. For example, he marked Kvyat down for collisions in his assessment this year – I’d argue perhaps a bit overly harshly, as he has a go at Kvyat for the collision in China where I feel that the way that Norris tried to return at high speed onto the track was the real cause of that collision.

        During his review of Kvyat, Keith stated “Following his latest return to Toro Rosso, Kvyat amassed enough starts to become Toro Rosso’s longest-serving driver. That being so, he really should have cut out the kind of mistakes in wheel-to-wheel combat which earned him the ‘torpedo’ moniker.

        Firstly, it is inconsistent with his assertion in other reviews that he wasn’t taking driver experience into account, as his article on Kvyat suggests that he is. However, given he deliberately made a point of Kvyat’s experience, it should be noted that Ricciardo has nearly double the amount of experience than Kvyat has (171 starts against 93 starts) and still got involved in more on-track incidents than Kvyat – if that point was used to mark down Kvyat, shouldn’t Ricciardo’s final evaluation been dragged down by a similar amount for being involved in even more accidents?

        Are we really saying that the difference in performance between Ricciardo and Hulkenberg was so extreme as to warrant relative rankings that are some of the most wildly different on the grid? As others have noted, Ricciardo did make a couple of big mistakes – his collision in Brazil, as the opening post points out, may well have wasted a podium chance in the end (he was running ahead of Sainz before that crash), or at the very least cost his team a number of points, with both France and Baku other cases where he threw away points finishes.

        It gives the impression that a few of the rankings are based more on personal preferences – it was a reasonable season, but there were some notable blemishes that you would have expected to bring the relative rankings closer together.

        1. +1
          Thank you.

      2. @justrhysism
        People love to compare the points, so not digging into the details:
        2018 (Hulkenberg 12th, Sainz 13th)
        Hulkenberg 69, 7 DNFs (two of them being his fault)
        Sainz 53, 2 DNFs

        2019 (Ricciardo 7th, Hulkenberg 15th)
        Ricciardo 54
        Hulkenberg 37
        Poor reliability, plenty of poor strategies and bad luck compromised Hulkenberg’s results more than any other driver on the grid. Ricciardo is 7th just for being Ricciardo [so called “proven top driver”] or what? Why Hulkenberg was so low last year? If you still don’t understand it’s pointless to continue.

    3. Vettel had many crashes aswell, but is still better than Hulkenberg :D

  5. I think a tie should be considered/involved in the rankings. Between Ric/Perez/Norris there’s reallly not much at all. I’d have them all tied from 8-6

  6. Seems right to me. He continued to show how talented he is, but he made too many mistakes.

  7. So is it gonna be: Perez, Leclerc, Bottas, Sainz, Hamilton, Verstappen?

  8. No mention of Monaco, in which he was stellar, both in qualifying and the race. Save for a poor strategy call he should have been fifth that day which would have been just reward for a fine drive.

    He also lost best-of-the-rest to Sainz in Silverstone because of the safety car.

    I have no doubts he would polish up Sainz, Perez or Bottas in the same machinery. But 7th is about right for this year.

    1. No way, if Sainz continues to improve the he did this year!!

  9. Yeah he had a less than stellar yr he made a couple of silly mistakes. But when the car held together he showed what he’s capable of, 7th is probably a good spot. Fingers crossed Renault can improve enough to allow him to push towards the pointy end of the field in 2020.

  10. Prediction:
    6. Perez
    5. Bottas
    4. Leclerc
    3. Sainz
    2. Hamilton
    1. Verstappen

  11. José Lopes da Silva
    20th December 2019, 22:23

    People are checking previous seasons results a lot. It’s 2014, 2016, 2018…

    I didn’t see anything from Ricciardo telling me that he should be above 7th this season. If you’re a team principal, you wouldn’t be in absolute awe with his performances. But he showed the way to Hulkenberg, though, who was established in the team, so we can fairly retain his Top Driver status.

    People tend to forget that these rankings must be attached to the cars each driver has. A winning car brings you more responsibility, gives you opportunities you can’t miss. Bottas has been losing chances of becoming a world champion. In the same way, Ricciardo would have to be way (even) more faster and efficient than Hulkenberg to be above 7th place. (I think Russell was placed a little to high.)

  12. So Perez is at least top 6?

    1. @mahoivan

      …carry the 2…

      Yes, the math checks out.

  13. Top 6, has to be in reverse order, Perez, Bottas, Sainz, Le Clerc, Vestappen, Hamilton

    I’d actually have no issue with Max been No.1

    1. i do. his race at Spa was pathetic. He did the same thing to the same Raikkonen in the same turn 1 as he had done in ’16.

      1. Indeed. 2nd is even too high.

  14. As an Aussie and a huge RIC fan, can’t really argue with the ranking. 7th seems quite fair overall.

  15. 6th minimum. Perez gets the same long strategy in well over half the calendar – and why not as it’s certainly his strong suit – sometimes it pays off handsomely, that along with partnering Stroll flatter his results.

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