When Lewis Hamilton said at the end of the Formula One season that he, Fernando Alonso, Max Verstappen, and Sebastian Vettel would be the drivers to beat next year, observers quickly noticed a name he’d forgotten to mention.
Verstappen’s boss, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was quick to set the record straight, saying Daniel Ricciardo is definitely a part of that elite group – and the Australian’s performances this season and over his career make it likely that Hamilton made an honest mistake in not including him.
Of course, there will be no future errors from the four-time world champion if Ricciardo partners up with the Brit at Mercedes as rumours over the Aussie’s long-term future persist.
The 28-year-old is out of contract with Red Bull at the conclusion of next season and is reportedly assessing his options as he weighs up the best avenue for silverware with Mercedes and Ferrari both possible destinations.
But for his part, the ever-smiling Ricciardo is focusing on next season, when he’ll have plenty of chances to show he belongs.
“I know what I want from myself in 2018,” Ricciardo said. “These are goals I wanted back in 2014. Nothing really changes.”
While he doesn’t say it explicitly, everyone knows what that means: Ricciardo is gunning for the title.
Mercedes’ dominance over the last few years, and Red Bull’s reliability problems this season, mean he hasn’t truly been a contender for the championship in his career, but there have been plenty of occasions when he’s shown the talent that justifies his lofty goals.
He’s also quick to acknowledge that he’s still developing as a driver, and his up-and-down 2017 season contributed to that.
“Through this year, there were some great days and some days which weren’t so great. I built up a list of notes from the year, what I can do to be better, to get more out of myself,” Ricciardo explained.
“These are things that are there. I don’t need to address them in the next month. It’s not stuff I’m going to learn back in Australia. But once I get back to Europe in the new year, then these are all things that I’ll put into place to work towards.
“It’ll all happen in due time, but for now all I’m thinking about is taking some holidays!”
Even in a 2017 dominated by Mercedes and Ferrari, there were race weekends when Red Bull had the second-quickest car, or arguably even the quickest, only to be let down by engine performance and reliability, issues that plagued Ricciardo and Verstappen all season.
“In the beginning of the year it was, ‘We need performance. Who cares about reliablity? We need a fast car,'” Ricciardo recalled. “We eventually got a fast car but reliability let us down throughout the whole season, early with Max, later with me.”
“I think Lewis finished every race this year, and if we want to be in the title we need to be finishing every race.”
If Red Bull can sort out their engine problems next season, it won’t take long for Ricciardo to show that there are five, not four, elite drivers in F1.
Alfa Romeo are returning to Formula One after a 30-year absence as backers of Sauber next year, the iconic Italian marque announced on Wednesday.
The Ferrari-powered team will be known as Alfa Romeo Sauber.
Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne, CEO of the Milan-based manufacturer’s company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, said in a statement that Alfa was “determined to begin writing an exciting new chapter in its unique, legendary sporting history”.
Pascal Picci, Chairman of Swiss-based Sauber Holding AG, added: “We are very pleased to welcome Alfa Romeo to the Sauber F1 Team.
“Alfa Romeo has a long history of success in Grand Prix racing, and we are very proud that this internationally renowned company has chosen to work with us for its return to the pinnacle of motorsport.”
Alfa Romeo won the inaugural F1 championship with Nino Farina in 1950, and followed up with legendary Argentinian Juan Manuel Fangio winning the 1951 title.
They then served as engine supplier for several teams from 1961 until 1979, before returning with a works team from 1979 to 1985, when they pulled out of F1.
Sauber have yet to finalise their drivers line-up for next season, with Ferrari’s junior drivers Charles Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi believed to be in the frame to replace Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein.
This month, PUMA launched their ’24/7′ campaign, the brand’s newest performance proposition for men, featuring four-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton.
As the newest addition to the PUMA family, the 32-year-old Hamilton will spearhead the Men’s Training Business launch, beginning with the ’24/7′ marketing campaign, which redefines the brand’s performance philosophy in a time when workouts are no longer constricted to the gym.
PUMA believe Hamilton is the perfect embodiment of the 24/7 training proposition. With his unending travels and insane schedule, he demonstrates just how necessary it is to have a wardrobe that performs from the gym to the street.
The brand recognise that the city itself can be the gym, track and stage all day, every day, which is how “24/7” came about. The streetwear line is built to perform. Product designs feature a fusion of high performance training technologies with streetwear styling to create the most flexible collection to date.