Daniel Ricciardo goes into this weekend’s Austrian GP on the crest of a wave after taking his first Grand Prix win in Canada last time out.
The 24 year old from Perth has had a great start to his first season with Red Bull Racing and is now third in the Drivers’ Standings on 79 points – 39 more than his team mate Sebastian Vettel.
That is a bigger margin than Mark Webber ever had over the German, although to be fair to Vettel he has had some technical retirements. That said, dan lost 18 points for 2nd place in Melbourne because the Red Bull team didn’t follow the correct procedure on the fuel flow meter on his car.
Ricciardo’s win in Canada was partly down to Mercedes hitting reliability problems on both cars for the first time this season, but there is no doubt that Red Bull car is much improved and we are starting to see some significant lap time gains from these cars now as they develop.
It’s probably getting a bit late for Ricciardo to have a tilt at the drivers’ championship, with Rosberg 61 points clear after seven rounds, but you never know, he could have some incidents and Dan might close that gap up a bit.
On pure pace the Mercedes is still the car to beat and that will be the case in Austria this weekend. It’s Red Bull’s home track – literally, as they own it!
It’s a simple layout with nine corners, seven braking zones and four flat out straights. It’s one of the shortest lap times of the season at around 68 seconds. Top speed and engine power are again important as is traction out of slow corners, so it’s a bit like Montreal in that sense. Another parallel is that the track doesn’t have many high speed corners to put energy into the tyres, so Pirelli has brought the soft and supersoft compounds again, which suited Ricciardo’s Red Bull well in Montreal.
I’d still go for a Mercedes win this weekend, especially when you look at the four straights where the cars hit 300km/h and more. But why not another Dan Ricciardo podium? He’s on great form at the moment.