It’s fair to say Daniel Ricciardo had a pretty good 2016 Formula 1 season at Red Bull Racing, which led to him finishing third in the drivers’ championship.
The Aussie picked up seven podium finishes and one victory, at the Malaysian Grand Prix, and brought the ‘shoey’ to F1.
Ricciardo wrapped up third in the standings with two races to go, beating the Ferraris and team-mate Max Verstappen (who raced for Toro Rosso at the opening four rounds of the year).
But while there were many highs, there were also lows like poor strategy calls and team errors costing him wins in Spain and Monaco.
Nevertheless, Ricciardo is looking at his season in a typically positive way, feeling it was a good year for him and crowning himself the “peasants world champion” behind the dominant Mercedes drivers of 2016 title winner Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
“There should be a separate title in this V6 era for ‘best of the rest’,” he joked to ESPN. “I could be world champion of the rest … the peasants’ world champion.”
Discussing his season as a whole, he explained: “If I didn’t have a victory, like if Malaysia didn’t happen, then I would look back and say ‘Sure, I should have maybe been a multiple race winner this year’. But because I got that victory I’m not going to say ‘Oh it could have been better, I could have had two or three’.
“I got the pole [in Monaco], which I hadn’t had before, and obviously got back on the top step so for me that’s awesome. And peasant’s champion, so it’s been solid.
“We expected to be fighting in the midfield in the first handful of races this year and we came out with some fourths. Then what was probably going to be a second in China – that was the third race of the year – we had the puncture and whatever but it was looking really good. We were like, alright, and it sort of got better so that was really cool.
“The win in Malaysia was epic, the pole in Monaco was in a way my highlight. I obviously didn’t tell people but I put a lot of pressure on myself to go there that weekend and execute it. I really believed I could, so for me to do that lap was kind of a relief because I did put a bit of pressure on myself. So that was cool.”
Don’t worry Daniel, you’re already a champion in all of our eyes. And you’ve brought a lot of entertainment, laughs and smiles to F1 this season.
With major rule changes for 2017, Red Bull are expected to give Mercedes more of a challenge. Here’s hoping!