What a difference a year makes for Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo during practice for the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 11, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.

Daniel Ricciardo has now been an F1 driver for a year

Jul. 6 (F1 Media) Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo marks his anniversary as an F1 racing driver at the British Grand Prix, after beginning the 2011 season as a Friday morning driver for Toro Rosso, the Australian graduated to a seat with HRT for the second half of the year, replacing Narain Karthikeyan.

Daniel Ricciardo Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday 10 July 2011.Now, a year down the road, Ricciardo returns to circuits where he has prior F1 experience, which he believes will provide a boost to his season – starting with Silverstone this weekend.

“Driving on Friday mornings for Toro Rosso in the first half of 2011 was useful but more is generally better. I think racing for HRT and doing all of those laps means [that] from now on I can hit the ground running on Friday morning: instead of trying to learn the circuit I might be getting on top of balance issues or developing the car right from the off. I think it speeds up your weekend. Maybe it doesn’t make you quicker over one lap but you’ll go into the important parts of the weekend with a better setup and therefore more opportunities in the race.”

There has been a perception, much voiced in recent weeks that the younger drivers in the F1 field struggle against their slightly older rivals by virtue of not having had access to the thousands of kilometres of testing that were standard practice before the testing ban came into force. Ricciardo acknowledges the difference – but argues that technological advances have taken up some of the slack.

Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso during qualifying for the Canadian Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 9, 2012 in Montreal, Canada.“It’s probably not as easy as having all of that testing but I think we’re coping alright. The simulator has taken over a lot of what we can’t do testing; it has helped us understand a bit more about the car, about what effects a setup change has. It isn’t as good but it’s been good enough and the evidence is guys like di Resta, Kobayashi, Pérez all seem to have coped pretty well.

“The junior formulae are very competitive too in the modern era, and the cars are very advanced – probably closer to F1, which makes the step shallower. It’s still a big step – just maybe not as big as it was five or ten years ago.”

Moving back to Toro Rosso for the 2012 season, Ricciardo scored points immediately, finishing ninth in the Australian Grand Prix. Since then Toro Rosso have had a fallow period and have not scored since Malaysia.

Subbed by AJN.