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The climax of Robert Clouse-directed ‘Enter The Dragon’ has a deep message, one that captivates audiences even today, over four decades since the movie hit cinemas, circa the mid-1970s.
Lee, hot on the trail of Han, enters a room full of mirrors moments before delivering the decisive kick that ends the tyrant.
It’s there that Bruce Lee pauses to recollect the teachings of his master, “The enemy has only images and illusions, behind which he hides his true motives.”
If you were to place the Zen-like philosophy in the firmament of F1, trading places between an actor and FORMULA 1 driver, you’d note it makes perfect sense.
Even more so in the case of Daniel Ricciardo, someone behind whose contagious smile rests steely resolve.
The Honeybadger’s reputation precedes him. That wild smile, the innocence, the playful nature of the Perth-born infusing a light-heartedness of sorts in a sport filled with extremities.
But actually, it’s what Daniel Ricciardo does on the track, not when clowning around- as he himself puts it- that defines him.
Whether you’re a strong mid-fielder or a race-leader, you watch your space, fight for it harder (than you’d against many) when facing up to Daniel Ricciardo.
The happy-go-lucky bloke often spotted in press conferences, in Parc ferme doing fun things turns into a battler soon as the visor goes down and the five red lights go green.
It’s where the goofy individual turns into a Honeybadger- fearless in protecting his territory, keen to attack yours.
It’s there where the climax kicks in.
Daniel Ricciardo unmasks his true intentions right in the Grand Prix unveiling the fighter, who was until a few moments ago (before the race-start), a fun-loving bloke.
At the 2017 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, he quipped with that affable smile- “I like ‘em vulnerable,” referring to the relative ease with which he caught the likes of Hulkenberg and Raikkonen napping, to finish fourth ahead of the Ferrari, Force Indias, and Renaults.
Most recently, at the Nurburgring-bound Eifel GP, he reminded on-track adversaries to be wary of the relentless Honeybadger.
The Unforgettable Eifel GP
The 31-year-old Renault driver made for one of the prettiest pictures taken from the desperately dangerous Nurburgring.
Drenched in the champagne shower, Lewis Hamilton drawing level with Michael Schumacher for most wins of all time and Max Verstappen getting his eighth podium in eleven outings, there stood Daniel Joseph Ricciardo.
The tall Renault driver with the wide smile albeit veiled behind the mask.
A few moments before, he did what seemed indomitable, if not impossible.
Courtesy of his P3, Daniel Ricciardo, with the single burst of effort, ticked many boxes.
This precisely explains why a single podium finish for Daniel in a season where Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen have had too many, perhaps matters just as much- if not more- in the context of a team, and F1 history.
The last driver to get Renault a podium was Nick Heidfeld, P3, at the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix.
No driver, therefore, in the turbo-hybrid era of FORMULA 1, and mathematically so, in almost a decade, got the French constructor a place among the top three.
So as Daniel did what, to many may seem brilliant whilst to some, just another podium finish, he didn’t just earn help his team break the long podium-less run.
He reminded us that in an era where most on the grid are simply playing catch-up to the frontrunners, not everything or every weekend belongs to Mercedes or Red Bull alone.
He proved that in an era besieged by the incredible Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes-show, where the rest of the grid is simply playing catch-up, not every weekend is just about the frontrunners.
And that with pure racecraft you can make yourself heard minus the fastest or the most prominent machine on the grid.
So while Renault Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul can court headlines for finally getting that tattoo in a friendly bet made with the Australian (should he help the team get one during his time with the team) Daniel Ricciardo already made a few for exhibiting skill checkered with unadulterated excellence.
Implicit in his Nurburgring drive were moves on Charles Leclerc, the Ferrari driver conceding the space to Renault (during the early stages of the race) but not before holding on for a few laps.
And the excellent defending from Sergio Perez in a vastly superior Mercedes-powered machine.
Daniel’s battle with Charles early into the race would determine the course of his Eifel GP; the Australian, who began from sixth (P6), soon climbing on top of the SF 1000, going a place up on the Ferrari.
You could argue that having the advantage of an extra 17 kmph worth of speed on the straights with DRS assistance helped Daniel’s cause but when you go for an all-out war, you make use of every bit of arsenal- don’t you?
Thanks to brilliant defending from Checo in the decisive stages, Daniel’s effort only added to the race, the venue nestled amid the grandiose Eifel Mountains.
But while the Nurburgring podium must be hailed, is that the only positive for the smiling-Australian in 2020?
How Daniel Ricciardo got the measure of Renault’s midfield challengers
Drivers with visibly powerful machines in Racing Point, McLaren aren’t on P4; Daniel is, contesting arguably with not the fastest car in RS 20, even though the French constructor has raised its game in a tight midfield tussle.
Renault, after 11 rounds, is fifth on the Constructor Standings, and with 114 points, only 2 shy of McLaren.
But it’s unwavering consistency- evident in both qualifying and race results- that have enabled Daniel Ricciardo to a position of authority.
Taking the measure of Ocon
It’s Daniel Ricciardo, not Esteban Ocon, who took Renault inside the top ten in qualifying on 9 of the 11 rounds held thus far.
In 8 of these races, he’s scored points, scoring only 1 DNF- a performance that’s taken him to Fourth on the Driver standings.
Meanwhile, teammate Ocon finds himself on 12th with 36 points, driving the exact same machine as the driver of car #3, albeit with 2 DNFs.
While on the one hand, Daniel began the season with a DNF- he breached the top top-five, not before the fourth race of the season.
Round- 1 at Silverstone– the fourth race of the season- yielding the first of his 3 P4 finishes this season.
Spa birthed a revitalized Ricciardo
But from the onset of Spa until the recently concluded Eifel GP, Daniel’s form has risen akin to a shape-shifting beast, earning points ever so consistently.
The last 5 race results- nearly half of the current running season- have produced a P4 at Spa-Francorchamps (Belgian GP), P6 at Monza (Italian GP), P4 at Mugello (FORMULA 1’s first-ever Tuscan GP), P5 at Sochi (Russian GP), and the P3 drive at Nurburgring (Eifel GP).
For someone who never won at Spa, a venue responsible for a tenth of his career podiums (3 in 30), it was only ideal that one of the fastest tracks on the calendar –apart from being a truly gorgeous circuit- unfurled something special from the Honeybadger. And that’s what happened.
The smiling hunter, who went at 1:47:483 in the final lap (44) of the 2020 Belgian Grand Prix, blitzed Spa with the fastest lap of the race contesting two of the fastest cars on the grid in Mercedes’ and the Mercedes-powered Racing Point cars.
As he waits to enter his first Portuguese GP, much like the rest of the grid, hopes will be high to see that unfettered excellence we’ve grown used to from Daniel Ricciardo. Someone whose words echo honesty and optimism, someone who shall never go down without a fight! Onto round 12 Mr. Honeybadger!
|Season||Points scored by Renault||Points scored by Ricciardo|
|2020- until round 11||114||78|