Daniel Ricciardo - the hottest property in F1
Storming through the field, winning his sixth race just 24 hours after a dramatic turbo failure threatened to see him start from the back - is Daniel Ricciardo the hottest property in F1?
Already high up on the shopping list for both Ferrari and Mercedes, the Australian’s performance at the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday will have gone a long way to cementing his place among the sport’s top talents.
Sitting between Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen, the two drivers most likely to make way should Ricciardo move next season, the misery was plain for all to see, while the man in the middle beamed in typical Ricciardo fashion.
While the hype around his younger, and arguably more exciting team-mate Max Verstappen peaks and troughs with each misdemeanour and avoidable crash the Dutchman seems to have - of which there were one of each at the Shanghai circuit - Ricciardo’s clean yet bold style saw him battle from sixth to the lead on the track, rightly earning the plaudits and the Driver of the Day crown, as voted for by the fans.
Since his arrival at Red Bull in 2014, Ricciardo’s stock has continued to rise. While beaten by Daniil Kvyat in a 2015 season everyone at Tilbrook was quick to gloss over and forget, he has seen off every team-mate put in front of him, and that has included Sebastian Vettel who had won the four previous championships.
Liked by the fans, a huge personality, there is little to dislike about Ricciardo.
If there are any questions for Mercedes and Ferrari though, it would be his qualifying pace. With just one pole position in his 132 starts, it could be argued he hasn’t had the machinery at his disposal to fight at the front of the grid.
With Ricciardo’s deal up at the end of the year, winning in China puts him in control of his own future. He has the pick of the best seats in the sport next season, and can command a high fee for his services too.
Ferrari have made a terrific start to the season, Mercedes will undoubtedly bounce back having won the last four championships, while Red Bull have given him a car capable of winning races again, so the decision will be a tricky one, but one arriving at his doorstep soon.