Behind Ricciardo’s Smile – ‘I Could have won the 2014 WDC in a Mercedes’

That age old question – Who would come out on top if the drivers were given equal machinery? The answer is quick speculation at best, a blend of unavoidable driver favouritism and form-book logic. But Daniel Ricciardo seems sure he could have outpaced Hamilton or Rosberg if he had been driving the Mercedes W05 of 2014.

Fighting talk from the Aussie, who in a recent interview has expressed that his character isn’t one to be judged on the basis of smiley television interviews. There is a serious racing driver behind the serial grinning.

Ricci

Ricciardo was reflecting on the missed opportunity for himself and Red Bull to win in 2016 at this year’s Monaco Grand Prix. A delay in pit-stop procedure saw the Aussie sit painfully in the box as the race victory slipped away. Traumatic on the day for Ricciardo, who was scowling after the race and clearly unhappy. Since, he’s been keeping the lid on wonderkid Max Verstappen and eking out great performances each weekend, albeit still behind the Mercedes – Well, one of them…

Ricciardo said,

“There are times when things don’t go your way or they don’t happen. Because I’m always smiling and seen as the nice guy, it is important for people to see that when things aren’t as they should be, I’m not just going to get walked over.

I will stand on my own two feet, and show this does mean a lot to me, that my desire is very strong in this sport. I’ve done it well and said things when I felt I needed to, and then I’ve just gone about my business when I haven’t really needed to do very much.

Which is why I don’t want to say I am ever satisfied, because I am, but until I really get that world championship I will always be back teeth clenched.”

– Daniel Ricciardo

arnieteeth

This is possibly a stark message to his own team that the presence of Verstappen does nothing to satisfy his hunger of winning. In Austria, the young Dutchman, under team instruction, let Ricciardo overtake on a different strategy. This bullish talk from the Aussie suggests that Max can’t rest easy on a return of the gesture.

hehe

Having joined Red Bull in 2014 at a time when they had enjoyed the very top spot, the silverware at the end of the season, Ricciardo had banked on winning World Championships after spending a few years with the team. Thank the excellence of the Mercedes for that one. He added,

“I’d definitely hoped for more.

Even that year, when it ended, I thought ‘You know what? If I’d had that car [a Mercedes] I would have been world champion’.

Not being able to take all of that since 2014 has been a bit frustrating. I’m sure it will come back around.

I’ve certainly learned a lot, to be a bit more – unfortunately – patient, to weather the storm and maximise the good days when they are here.”

– Daniel Ricciardo

Ricciardo sounds like his patience is balancing on the precipice of Red Bull making strides forwards next season. He want to win races and then some. With the gap between Red Bull and Mercedes closing rapidly this season, where will the chance to win again arrive for the Aussie?