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Daniel Ricciardo 200 races, Red Bull Helmut Marko call that gave him HRT drive

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Daniel Ricciardo will reach the rare milestone of 200 Formula One Grand Prix starts when racing resumes this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps.

The Australian will become just the 22nd driver to accomplish the feat, and only the second from Australia after Mark Webber raced in 217 Grands Prix.

Just 10 years earlier, Ricciardo was in the kitchen with his family when his phone rang with an unexpected call that would change his life forever.

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Toyota wins fourth straight Le Mans | 00:55

Ricciardo was at the time an exciting F1 prospect who had made his way through Europe’s open-wheeler ranks with the backing of energy drink giants Red Bull.

By 2011, he was still slowly learning the trade as an eager 22-year-old who was test driver for Red Bull’s sister team Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri), then fronted by Sebastian Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari.

But poor performances from the duo gave way to speculation that Toro Rosso’s driver line-up would be changed mid-season, opening the door to Ricciardo.

“The circumstances were crazy,” Ricciardo told In The Fast Lane podcast. “I was a Toro Rosso reserve driver that year and I knew there were some talks about were they going to keep the current Toro Rosso line-up for the whole season?

“So I was like, ‘if I’m going to get a chance halfway through the year it’s going to be in a Toro Rosso’.

“And then, I guess probably one good result later from one of the guys there and it was like, ‘oh, no we are going to keep them, but we still want to put Daniel in F1’.”

Without any drives available, Red Bull took the step to pay struggling minnows HRT to give Ricciardo his F1 debut halfway through the season.

Japanese Grand Prix CANCELLED | 00:38

Ricciardo was unaware of the plan ahead of the British Grand Prix until he received a call from Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko, who shared a tense relationship with Webber and later displayed favouritism towards Max Verstappen.

“It was wild, but I do remember being in the house I was living in England, and my parents were there, and I saw Dr Marko on the phone and I was like: ‘this is going to be interesting’,” Ricciardo remembered.

“I walked into the living room, he told me, and I walked back into the kitchen where my parents were, and my mum knew straight away, as a mother knows, they just know that look when something is up.

“So she was like ‘what’s up?’ (I said), ‘I’m racing F1 next weekend!”

Ricciardo spent his debut at the back of the field, but has since gone on to win seven Grands Prix and drive for five F1 teams (HRT, Toro Rosso, Red Bull, Renault, McLaren).

He remembered his first Grand Prix as a whirlwind experience, saying: “The seat fit, trying to learn the team, and then I think it was wet as well so we were qualifying in the rain, it was a lot.

“I don’t think I had driven on Pirelli’s yet either, so it was my first time on Pirelli’s, which were very different from the Bridgestone’s I had tried.

“There was a lot going on, but hey, what an experience.”

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David Cauchi joins Kelly Grove Racing, Triple Eight, Shane van Gisbergen

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Kelly Grove Racing has confirmed David Cauchi will join the team in 2022 as Team Principal.

Cauchi will join the team next season following a long stint with Triple Eight Race Engineering.

The decorated race engineer will replace Todd Kelly, who has been Team Principal since he retired from full-time driving.

He is currently Shane van Gisbergen’s race engineer, having skippered Jamie Whincup’s efforts between 2014 and 2020.

Cauchi has worked in Supercars for 14 years, and has helped Triple Eight to eight drivers’ titles.

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David Cauchi helped Triple Eight to eight drivers’ titles.Source: Supplied

That could become nine in 2021, with van Gisbergen leading the championship by 276 points.

The experienced engineer will lead the Braeside squad into its new solely Grove-owned era, but will also bring engineering and winning nous with him.

“I’m very excited and grateful to Brenton & Steph for the opportunity to join Grove Racing in 2022,” Cauchi said.

“It’s a new role and a thrilling opportunity in a team with a deep and long history in the sport.

“I am looking forward to being a part of this new chapter in their story.”

Team co-owner Stephen Grove was delighted to secure the services of the experienced and decorated engineer.

“Once we went through the ownership changes, it was essential that we found the best possible person we could to help take on some of Todd’s critical roles, and we believe we have found that person in Cauchi.

“He has vast experience and know that he will fit well into the family culture of the team.

“We look forward to him starting with us in 2022.”

Whincup reflects on 2014 Bathurst 1000 | 07:35

The move means Triple Eight Race Engineering will field an all-new race engineering line-up for the 2022 Repco Supercars Championship..

Wes McDougall, who has been engineering Jamie Whincup in 2021, will also depart the team at season’s end.

Veteran McDougall joined the team this year from Matt Stone Racing.

It comes after Grant McPherson left the team at the end of 2020 to join Walkinshaw Andretti United.

McPherson was previously van Gisbergen’s race engineer between 2016 and 2020.

He notably helped van Gisbergen to the championship in 2016, and Bathurst victory last year.

Cauchi is a long-term member of the Triple Eight family, having joined the team in 2007 as a data engineer.

He took over from Mark Dutton on Whincup’s car in 2014 and helped him to the 2014 and 2017 drivers’ titles.

Dutton, himself a decorated race engineer, is Triple Eight’s Team Manager.

The team will also feature a new-look driver line-up in 2022, with van Gisbergen to be joined by Broc Feeney.

Feeney will replace Whincup, who himself will replace Roland Dane as Managing Director and Team Principal.

With McPherson and Cauchi both on the way out, van Gisbergen will have his third race engineer in as many years in 2022.

The 2021 Repco Supercars Championship will continue at next weekend’s Bunnings Trade Sydney SuperNight. Tickets for all four upcoming Sydney events are on sale now.

The event will be broadcast live on Foxtel and will be streamed on Kayo.

This story originally appeared on Supercars.com

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Sebastian Vettel slams 2022 calendar, F1 news

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Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel has slammed the Formula 1 schedule for 2022, which features a record 23 races in the calendar year.

Australia, Canada, Singapore and Japan are all set to make their long-awaited return next season after being axed in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent health restrictions.

The 2022 season will start in Bahrain on March 20 and finish at Abu Dhabi on November 20.

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China has been dropped from the F1 calendar for a third successive year, and will be replaced by the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola on April 24.

A new race in Miami has also been confirmed for May 8 as the United States hosts two events with Austin pencilled in for October 23.

There will be two triple-headers and seven back-to-back races next year, a tightly-packed schedule that has led to criticism over stress levels for staff.

And this week, Aston Martin driver Vettel has voiced his frustration with the calendar, detailing how it will impact fans and staff.

There will be a record 23 races in the 2022 F1 season. Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images.
There will be a record 23 races in the 2022 F1 season. Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images.Source: Getty Images

“This is only my opinion, and it’s not worth anything, but I think we should not have that many races,” Vettel said, as reported by Wide World of Sports.

“I think (for) one, maybe it’s too many races for the people to watch. It’s not special anymore if there’s that many.

“And (secondly), I feel for (the staff). Us drivers – we are at the good side of things: we can arrive on a Wednesday night and leave if we find a flight, et cetera, on a Sunday night.

“But the team already has a lot more stress. They arrived Monday or Saturday the week before, they build the garage, prepare the cars and then also they have to run the full week and then pack down, send everything back and prepare back in the factory.

“For them, it’s a job that you’re busy all weekdays and nearly every weekend, so you have no time for yourself. And I think we are in a time where people are growing more and more conscious that they have a life, too, and that the life doesn’t belong to the employer.

“I’m not in charge and obviously there’s some other interests, but it’s just making sure that people have a balance between their life at home and the time spent away.

“I think it should be a number of races that is sustainable for keeping your passion for many years and not being, you know, sucked out after two or three years.”

Sebastian Vettel is currently 12th on the F1 drivers’ standings with 35 points. Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFPSource: AFP

It remains to be seen whether or not the experiment with qualifying sprint races, introduced this year, returns in 2022. A decision will be made after the third and final sprint race at the Brazilian GP from November 12 to 14, said the F1 Commission.

The 2022 season will also see the introduction of new cars with redesigned aerodynamics to allow drivers the chance to follow and overtake with greater ease in a sport criticised for its often processional nature.

F1 will return this weekend with the United States Grand Prix, which is scheduled to get underway at 6am AEDT on Monday, October 25.

2022 Formula 1 calendar

March 20: Bahrain, Sakhir

March 27: Saudi Arabia, Jeddah

April 10: Australia, Melbourne

April 24: Emilia Romagna, Imola*

May 8: Miami, Miami**

May 22: Spain, Barcelona*

May 29: Monaco, Monaco

June 12: Azerbaijan, Baku

June 19: Canada, Montreal

July 3: Great Britain, Silverstone

July 10: Austria, Spielberg

July 24: France, Le Castellet

July 31: Hungary, Budapest

August 28: Belgium, Spa-Francorchamps

September 4: Netherlands, Zandvoort

September 11: Italy, Monza

September 25: Russia, Sochi

October 2: Singapore, Singapore*

October 9: Japan, Suzuka

October 23: United States, Austin*

October 30: Mexico, Mexico City

November 13: Brazil, Sao Paulo

November 20: Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina

* subject to contract

** subject to FIA circuit

– with AFP

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Johnny Herbert suggests Daniel Ricciardo talent may have ‘evaporated’, McLaren, F1 news

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Former Formula 1 driver turned analyst Johnny Herbert has questioned why Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo has struggled in the sport since his move to McLaren, theorising his talent has “evaporated”.

Following an underwhelming two-year stint at Renault, Ricciardo joined McLaren ahead of the 2021 season, partnering with British young gun Lando Norris.

But Ricciardo’s maiden season in orange has been anything by smooth sailing, with the Perth driver struggling to come to terms with the MCL35M’s braking system.

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The 32-year-old is currently sitting in eighth place on the F1 drivers’ standings, 50 points behind Norris.

Ricciardo seemingly turned a corner at Monza last month, winning the Italian Grand Prix to help McLaren secure its first 1-2 finish in the sport since 2010.

But the triumph was a lone highlight in what has otherwise been a disappointing 2021 campaign for the Australian.

Daniel Ricciardo failed to escape Q1 at the Turkish Grand Prix last weekend. Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

“Daniel has been a shocker,” Herbert told Motorsport Magazine.

“We never expected him to struggle so much.

“I can empathise with him and it’s terrible, especially when it’s been so long and you still haven’t found the answer.

“Still, we know how good he is and he knows it too.

“I’ve heard Daniel’s problems are brake-related, but it’s also down to aerodynamics,” he added.

“If it’s already causing us headaches, think what it’s like for him.

“He’s not too old, he hasn’t had a bad crash. There have been plenty of drivers for whom it (their talent) just evaporated.

“I go back to Jean (Alesi). He was the ‘next big thing’ and yet he only won one Grand Prix. It didn’t work for him, with all his natural talent.

“The problem is that if it doesn’t get better, the rumours start, and once that starts and the tornado accelerates, you’re just a passenger.”

The F1 season resumes next weekend with the United States Grand Prix, which is scheduled for 6am AEDT on Monday, October 25.

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