Two-time Australian Grand Prix winner David Coulthard says Daniel Ricciardo has cemented his place as one of Formula One’s brightest stars off the back of his breakthrough campaign with Red Bull Racing last season.
In his first year at the sport’s world champion team of the previous four years, Perth-born Ricciardo won three Grands Prix and finished third in the drivers’ championship, humbling reigning world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel.
Ricciardo becomes Red Bull’s team leader this season with Vettel’s departure to Ferrari, and 13-time Grand Prix winner Coulthard believes Ricciardo’s star will rise further in 2015.
Speaking to the ‘Keeping Track’ podcast, Coulthard says the 25-year-old Australian has quickly become a standout on and off the track.
“He really was the team leader last year, and a four-time world champion in Sebastian Vettel didn’t really seem to have an answer for him,” Coulthard said.
“He’s one of the brightest stars in Formula One. Daniel has got the showman aspect, he’s got the big smile … whether he wins many world championships remains to be seen, but he’ll definitely be one of the greats of the sport in terms of recognition because of just how much energy he brings.”
Coulthard admitted surprise at Ricciardo’s decisive overtaking in races, which saw him secure victories in Canada, Hungary and Belgium in a season where the all-conquering Mercedes team won the other 16 Grands Prix.
“The thing that really stood out for me is his racing ability, the wheel-to-wheel instinctive feel – that was something about him that I hadn’t appreciated,” Coulthard said.
Coulthard also spoke about Nico Rosberg’s chances of unseating Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton for the world championship, Vettel’s period of adjustment as he settles in at Ferrari, and the expected pecking order behind Mercedes for next week’s F1 season-opening race at Albert Park.
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