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Daniel Ricciardo and the art of backmarkerdom in Formula 1

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Daniel Ricciardo and the art of backmarkerdom in Formula 1
Jul 18, 2011, 6:57 PM

Daniel Ricciardo did not have an easy time of it in his F1 debut at Silverstone.

Daniel Ricciardo did not have an easy time of it in his F1 debut at Silverstone.

The conditions were tricky for all the drivers, but especially for one who was racing in the full glare of public attention for the first time.

But what was really interesting about his race for me was learning that there is an art to backmarkerdom, which drivers in that position must learn.

Basically if you drive a Hispania or one of the slower cars, you are going to be lapped several times by the leader during a race and by plenty of other cars too. The art is in not losing too much time in the process. Ricciardo will have spent as much time looking in his mirrors for Red Bulls, Ferraris and the rest as he will looking at the track.

I'm told by insiders that by moving off line, getting the tyres dirty and cleaning them up again, which takes a few corners, he was losing around 4 seconds every time a car lapped him, relative to what he would have done on a clear lap.

In comparison his team mate Tonio Liuzzi has now got being lapped down to a fine art and loses only around 0.8sec every time. So Ricciardo was a long way behind Liuzzi at the end. This is something he will be looking to rectify this weekend at the Nurburgring.

It is always interesting when a driver with a lot of promise is obliged to start his career in a backmarker car because it is an unaccustomed position for them to be in, having usually been winners who dominated the junior categories.

Ricciardo was also slightly disappointed after qualifying that he did't get more out of the Pirelli tyres and this is another area he will be wanting to improve this weekend.

Ricciardo lost seven seconds to Liuzzi in the first ten laps on a damp track on intermediate tyres before the pit stops.

He was half a second slower than the Italian in qualifying and his fastest race lap was four tenths slower.

Moving to HRT from the relative security of the Friday test role at Toro Rosso was a bit of a gamble for Ricciardo and his Red Bull mentor Helmut Marko.

He was a young guy full of potential with fast lap times in the two young guns tests he's done for Red Bull and no pressure on him on Fridays. He has to show strong progress over the ten races he's contesting or some of that sheen will come off.

I reminded him that Damon Hill had a similar experience at Silverstone in 1992 in an uncompetitive Brabham, being lapped by Nigel Mansell. But a year later Damon was winning races and four years afterwards he became the world champion.

On a side note, with the team having been taken over by Spanish investors Thesan Capital, there is some suggestion that former GP2 front runner Javier Villa may do some Friday test drives and that in time Liuzzi may be replaced by the Spaniard.

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Daniel Ricciardo Shop Now