Ricciardo excited by up-and-coming Aussie talents

Mark Scott
Daniel Ricciardo in Abu Dhabi paddock. Abu Dhabi December 2021

McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo in the Abu Dhabi paddock. Abu Dhabi December 2021

Daniel Ricciardo believes it is “looking good” for fresh Aussie talent to make their way up into the ranks of Formula 1.

Ricciardo is one of 17 Formula 1 drivers to hail from Australia and is the only Australian to join the grid in the last decade having first made his debut at the 2011 British Grand Prix with HRT.

But it may not be too long before we see another new Aussie join the Formula 1 grid following the meteoric rise of Alpine Academy member Oscar Piastri.

The 20-year-old from Melbourne has added a considerable amount to his trophy cabinet in the last few years. In 2019, he won the Formula Renault Eurocup and then continued his title rush by winning both the Formula 3 Championship and Formula 2 Championship with Prema Racing in consecutive years.

Piastri won the Formula 2 title by a clear margin, 60.5 points to be precise after winning four of the last seven races of the season.

And Ricciardo thinks the dominant manner of Piastri’s latest title success speaks volumes.

“[It was] wild,” Ricciardo exclaimed, as quoted by GP Fans. “He didn’t just win, he dominated.

“I don’t think anyone really expected him to…fighting for a title is one thing, but winning comfortably was huge.

“I think people knew, obviously, he was talented. I knew he was talented but I don’t think anyone expected him to dominate the championship like he did.”

There was even more promise from an Aussie perspective as, during the final Formula 2 qualifying session of the season in Abu Dhabi, Piastri edged out his fellow compatriot Jack Doohan by two tenths to create an all-Aussie front row in the junior series.

That was something else which brought a smile to Ricciardo’s face.

“There was an Aussie front-row lockout with him and Jack so it’s looking good for young up and coming Aussies,” Ricciardo added.

“I’m very happy to see that.”

While Piastri fell short of joining the Formula 1 grid in 2022 despite being in the frame for a seat at Alfa Romeo alongside Valtteri Bottas, he did still earn a promotion by becoming Alpine’s new reserve and development driver for the 2022 campaign.

His target now is to find a way onto the grid in 2023.

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