Daniel Ricciardo believes that his divebomb moves during his first season at Red Bull Racing in 2014 ‘showed people what was possible’ with overtaking in Formula 1.
Writing in his last diary entry before his long time with Red Bull’s motorsport system comes to a close this weekend in Abu Dhabi, Ricciardo looked back on his five years with the senior team.
The West Australian nominated his first season at RBR, 2014, as a pivotal one for his career.
“I won three of my seven races with Red Bull in that ’14 season, so that’s the year I look back at being the most fun for me and the most important for my career since,” wrote Ricciardo.
“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.”
Ricciardo added that it was important to establish that he would not be intimidated by his rivals on the track.
“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,” he explained.
“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.”
Ahead of his 100th and final race for RBR, Ricciardo nominated his second win as a standout.
However, he suggested that his very first race for the team, when he qualified on the front row on intermediate tyres at Albert Park, was perhaps more significant as it set the tone for that season.
“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 the front and I had supreme confidence and zero intimidation from anyone.
On the 2014 Australian Grand Prix, he wrote, “I was the brave kid who made the ballsy call, and 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 (Sebastian Vettel, then his team-mate).
“That year, it just clicked. I always knew I had that in me, but I was able to put it all together that year, and that confidence from that year has carried on since.”
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend starts on Friday with Practice 1 from 2000 AEDT.