Ricciardo is preparing for his final race with Red Bull as this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix marks his 100th and last grand prix for the team before switching to Renault for 2019.
The Australian has marked the moment by reflecting on his most significant moments in his long-time backer’s senior team, including elaborating on a breakout 2014 campaign in which he partnered four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel and earned all of Red Bull’s three victories that season.
“That’s the year I look back at being the most fun for me and the most important for my career since,” said Ricciardo in his farewell Red Bull diary entry.
“The wins were big, and I had a massive battle with Fernando [Alonso] in Germany where we raced really hard but fair, and he had some praise for me afterwards which was big at the time.
“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.
“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 realise that sounds a bit cocky, but I really do believe that. I’m not saying all of them can do it, but at least more of them are trying!”
Ricciardo has explained before how his opportunity with Red Bull, having graduated from the Toro Rosso junior team, was the kick he needed to be more forceful in battle.
In his diary he referred to having to “shake off something like Bahrain 2012 when I got pushed around on the first lap” after qualifying sixth and how it was “a setback to my reputation”.
However, he believes he began to build a better status from the very start at Red Bull, having qualified second and split the Mercedes drivers in Australia despite a significant power disadvantage at the beginning of F1’s V6 turbo-hybrid era.
“I was on inters in the rain [in qualifying, first race with the new team, home race – I was the brave kid who made the ballsy call,” said Ricciardo, who has now won seven GPs.
“I look back at that now and think that it was a really important race in my time at Red Bull.
“I went two feet in that day, was decisive, and that set the tone for the driver I was to become, especially in that first year up against Seb.
“That year, it just clicked. I always knew I had that in me, but I was able to put it all together and that confidence from that year has carried on since.”
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB14
Photo by: Manuel Goria / Sutton Images
A crucial right-hand man
Simon [Rennie, race engineer] and I couldn’t be more different out of the car, our personalities are really as contrasting as you could get, but we’ve had this fantastic relationship where he understands me and we never second-guess one another. He feeds off the battles with me, if I say something on the radio that’s hungry, he’s right with me. He’s someone I’m going to miss going into battle with on Sundays.
The men behind his Chinese GP win
The mechanics, the amount of times they’ve rallied between an FP3 and a qualifying session and got me out there. I wouldn’t have won China this year without them, and that was probably the most satisfying ‘team’ moment of the times I’ve had here.
Why he’s going to Red Bull’s Christmas party
I’m not driving the test after the race, so I’ll head back to Europe and close everything off, say my goodbyes, go to the team’s Christmas party and that sort of thing. I’m sure some drivers would be like ‘Christmas party? I’ve left the team now, who cares?’, but I feel being there is right, for the people who work in the factory and the whole team, to show the gratitude I have for the last five years of work everyone has done. And then it’s off to see my new team, and then on one final flight to get some downtime back in Oz.