“I’ve got a call from Helmut”
Next week-end at Spa-Francorchamps, Daniel Ricciardo will race in his 200th Grand Prix. The Australian, winner of 7 Grand Prix and now a McLaren driver, made his first start in Formula One at Silverstone in 2011. He remembers the circumstances:
“I’ve got a phone call from Helmut (Marko) saying I was going to race at Silverstone for the HRT team (picture above). It was interesting with my team mate Tonio Liuzzi at HRT, because I was coming in at the very start of my career, and he’d been there and done that, so the HRT thing for him was a way to stay in the sport more than progress through it.”
“Tonio was competitive, it got more competitive with him as the season went on. I think he out-qualified me the first three races – I knew he’d be fast, but his one lap pace was seriously impressive.”
Daniel continues: “The first few qualifyings, I felt like I’d done a good lap, and then he’d nail one and I didn’t know where the time came from. To this day, he’s still one of the quickest guys I’ve come across over one lap.”
For the first Grand Prix of his career, Ricciardo (picture below) qualified last, 0.6 sec slower than Liuzzi, and finished 19th, 3 laps down on winner Alonso in his Ferrari. It was a modest start for the amicable Australian, but great things would follow.