Daniel Ricciardo revealed yesterday that a potential Ferrari 2019 drive was stopped by an individual, thus forcing him to secure a drive with Renault. However, I believe this road could lead him to the Scuderia eventually.
Ricciardo was rather forced into a move to Renault after a series of events left the Australian without a secure seat for 2019.
Ongoing tensions between himself and the RedBull team, not specifically Max Verstappen, made the seven-time race winner yearn for pastures new.
Although paddock rumours can sometimes be far of the mark, Ricciardo’s move to Ferrari has been in the works since his impressive 2014 season.
In his first full season at RedBull Ricciardo was able to beat teammate Sebastian Vettel convincingly, and take three wins in a season owned by Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Fast-forward to 2018 and the conversation regarding a potential move to Ferrari became louder as Kimi Raikkonnen hinted at leaving the series.
Had a contract been put forward? was there an agreement between all parties? Some seemed to think so, and increasingly it was believed that Ricciardo would announce a move during the summer break.
He did announce a move, but not the one expected.
A two year deal at Renault, partnering Nico Hulkenberg (that driver with the inescapable record of most races without a podium), with the potential for an extended contract mid-2019.
In an interview with Automoto, Ricciardo said, “Evidently someone said no when I arrived. Who? I’d like to know, but maybe I have an idea…”
This person may have been the late Sergio Marchionne, who was putting plans in place to promote Charles Leclerc to a Scuderia race seat.
Forging Ferrari Future
Daniel Ricciardo can ultimately find himself a seat at Ferrari, most likely three years down the line he will be in contention once again. This, of course, is hinging on a couple of scenarios I will explain.
Ricciardo is seeking to prove himself as one of the best in the current crop of drivers, and he could do this in a Hamilton-Mercedes style fashion.
The likelihood is Renault are not about to make a sudden jump to the front of the grid like Mercedes did in 2014, but the French manufacturer is making serious financial, brand, and human investment in taking their first championship in over 12 years.
Team manager Cyril Abiteboul argues the team is committing to bringing home the title, and has set out a plan to do so.
“We have been on the journey of a long term plan for six years, six years to build the team and six years to hopefully challenge these guys..”
If Renault can produce a strong car for Ricciardo, and he becomes the image of their resurgence, then the top teams will come knocking with pen and paper for him to sign a contract.
Secondly, and the strongest chance Ricciardo has to earn a race seat at Ferrari is the idea of brand image or loyalty.
Ricciardo has spent his F1 career tied to RedBull, a team run with an entirely different philosophy to Ferrari. The team is not a manufacturer, they are not representing a car brand but a drinks company. This whole foundation leads to a different way of thinking, and a different way of going racing.
Ferrari focus attention on drivers who respect their brand, their image, and do not criticise the team, which seems to emulate a religion more than a company.
Take for example Felipe Massa, or Rubens Barrichello, two drivers who could have been very outspoken about their positions at the team and their experiences but instead remained mostly dedicated to the Scuderia. This devoted nature allowed them to extend their contracts because they did not damage the brand-image.
Sebastian Vettel has struck a chord with the Ferrari team over the last four years as he does not criticise and pass blame, like Fernando Alonso did during his stint at Ferrari.
Daniel Ricciardo will learn how to represent a big brand at Renault, and Ferrari will be watching closely to see how he does this. Should he be able to conduct himself accordingly, Ferrari will know that he is able to align his behaviour to the Ferrari-way.
Throw in to the mix that if Vettel cannot secure a championship in the next three years, is outdone by Charles Leclerc, or calls it a day after winning title number five, Daniel Ricciardo could be looking at a seat alongside rookie star Charles Leclerc.
Or, should the newest Ferrari representative fail to impress, Ricciardo may be reunited with his former RedBull stablemate.
Daniel Ricciardo, if successful in his Renault move, could find himself wearing a special shade of scarlet very soon.
Header Image: Emperornie (Wikicommons)