Formula 1 News

European Grand Prix: The Australian Perspective

As the Valencia race swiftly approaches, we assess the situation of Australians, Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo.
Saturday, June 23, 2012

Born in Adelaide during its 11 year long era of hosting Formula One, Jacob Polychronis has admired the sport his whole life. Along with his brother Gabriel, they share their educated opinion via articles and their podcast, F1 News & Views Podcast.

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June 23rd, 2012 (F1plus / Jacob Polychronis).- Ahead of the European Grand Prix, all the pandemonium understandably surrounds the potential for an 8th separate winner in the 8th race. Aussie Dan Ricciardo has no realistic opportunity of winning the eighth race, however, Mark Webber would fancy his chances, even if it means disappointing the romanticists.

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Mark Webber

Drivers Standing: 4th (79 points)

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Despite being placed outside the top 3 in the drivers’ championship, Mark Webber stands only 9 points off the leader, Lewis Hamilton. After establishing himself as a major player in the 2012 season with victory in Monaco, Webber suffered a lacklustre performance in Montréal. Those on older tyres restricted Webber’s progress (who was on fresh rubber), and then poor strategy ultimately doomed him to a 7th place finish. Currently, Webber sits a measly 6 points behind his team mate, Sebastian Vettel.

Webber enjoyed a relatively successful European GP in the preceding season, after qualifying in second and finishing in third. This is something which buoys the Australian, saying “I had a good race in Valencia last year, starting on the front row of the grid and coming home on the podium. I’ll be looking for more of that this time around.”

In the build up to the Grand Prix weekend in Valencia, Webber has typically been subject to speculation surrounding his future. Speaking about his position within the sport, Webber stated “at the moment my motivation's really high. I don't like losing, which is a good sign. And I don't feel what I can replace this with at the moment - the motivation is the most important thing. When you have that, the rest is straightforward.”

Claiming podiums and winning races travels a long way when it comes to maintaining motivation. The Valencia Street Circuit will be far more suited to the RB8 then what Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was. For this reason, both Red Bulls are slightly favoured to claim their third win for the season. Expect Webber to be in the mix.

Daniel Ricciardo

Drivers Standing: 17th (2 points)

For Daniel Ricciardo, it is very much crunch time. Considering Toro Rosso are virtually incapable of claiming championship points this season, other means are required to measure how Ricciardo is faring to his team mate, Jean-Eric Vergne. Qualifying has been Ricciardo’s domain, out-qualifying the Frenchman 6 times out of 7 so far. All drivers will tell you however, that Sunday is where the prizes are given. It is here, on the Sunday, where Ricciardo urgently needs to improve his results.

So far this season, despite holding better grid position for almost every race, Vergne has managed to out-race the Australian 5 times out of 7. Although Vergne’s Sunday dominance has been predominately by only one position and rarely rewarded with championship points, it is still a damning statistic for Ricciardo.

Quickly approaching one full year as an F1 driver, Ricciardo is well aware that his performances need amendment, simply stating “it’s time to kick on and get some solid results.

As for this season, we’ve been a bit up and down. We kicked it off pretty well in Melbourne and we probably would have liked that to continue, which it hasn’t done as smoothly, but yeah, we still have a long season ahead of us.”

Ricciardo has tremendous potential which has been well exhibited during qualifying sessions. What is required of the Aussie is to now carry his Saturday dominance to race situations. Toro Rosso is not known as the most patient of constructors. Jaime Alguersuari and Sébastian Buemi will be the first to tell you that. It is for this reason that Ricciardo definitely needs to “kick on” and do it soon. Ricciardo will see Valencia as the perfect time to start, saying "[I'm] looking forward to a stronger second half of the season and hopefully that can start here."

Daniel Ricciardo at the valencia street circuit (Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

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