Daniel Ricciardo’s promotion to Red Bull Racing’s 2014 driver line-up has received praise from two of the sport’s most-regarded World Champions, who both believe that the young West Australian will make a big impact at the championship-winning outfit.
While they may have won their respective titles way back in 1978 and 1980, both Mario Andretti and Alan Jones have an eye for talent, and both argue that the youngster could be a championship-winner.
Following a two-year stint at Scuderia Toro Rosso, Ricciardo was confirmed as Sebastian Vettel’s new teammate, replacing the World Endurance Championship-bound Mark Webber, who announced his retirement from Formula 1 earlier this year.
Speaking with the AAP news agency, Jones said: “He’s got to grab the bull by both horns now and go for it.
“There’s been a lot of kids go into that [Red Bull junior] programme and have never survived it – and Daniel is one that has.
“As far as Red Bull’s concerned, they know they’ve got Vettel. If it takes Daniel 12 months or thereabouts to get into the groove with that particular team, I think they’ve probably factored that in. I don’t know about next year but I’d certainly say yes, Daniel is capable of winning a championship.”
Jones’ sentiments were echoed by American racing legend Mario Andretti, who claimed his World Championship title in 1978, two years before Jones managed the same feat with Williams.
“I can understand the decision absolutely,” the 73-year-old told the German-language Welt newspaper
“They have this training team, Toro Rosso, that has already created Sebastian Vettel.
“So why would they have a training team if not for situations like this? This is a great signal to all young racing drivers that there is a way without having a big name.”