The Aussie has impressed in more ways than one in 2014.
Before you read too much into this, no, I don't mean that he should literally be considered the 2014 World Champion, even if he doesn't win it all.
The meaning of a champion
The point of a championship is to pinpoint the driver who drove impeccably, who made the least mistakes, the one who carried himself like a champion, and above all else, proved himself to be the best. That's what it's supposed to be.
Now the reality of it (in some years, not all) is far-less compelling. It's an honor bestowed upon the driver who amasses the most points during the season, and who also was fortunate enough to pilot the strongest car in the field. Compared to what it is designed to determine, the true facotrs in deciding it seem quite trivial really.
Rosberg and Hamilton
In 2014, the 'technical' champion will most likely be Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. If anyone else surpasses them, it will only because of a catastrophic implosion at Mercedes. No matter the outcome though, the true champion has to be Red Bull's new star, Daniel Ricciardo.
Ricciardo has proved to be the most consistent and solid driver in the field. He and Alonso I should say. He doesn't make mistakes and always puts himself in the best position to pounce when dramas befall the pilots of the silver arrows. He's the best of the rest, always at the top of his game, and as its been highly documented, always smiling.
Hamilton and Rosberg have the strongest cars and should have won every race thus far. Mechanical issues and a rivalry that boiled over in Belgium have precluded them from achieving the perfect season though. Neither of these drivers have acted as champions in 2014, while the young Daniel Ricciardo lurks in the shadows, taking advantage every time they've faltered.
The fact that he doesn't have a car capable of winning on a weekly basis doesn't discourage him. He continues to fight for every piece of track he can. Ricciardo is always optimistic and has a positive outlook going into each GP, ready to go out there give his team the best result possible, which he usually does. He roars into Monza on a massive wave momentum as the Aussie goes in search of his third consecutive victory.
Already a champion
Daniel Ricciardo has already proven himself a champion, now we're just waiting on him to collect the hardware he deserves.