‘Bianchi would have been a race winner by now’ – Ricciardo


How good would Jules Bianchi have been had he lived? Sadly, that’s a question that, as with the likes of Francois Cevert, Tom Pryce and Stefan Bellof, can only be answered by conjecture. But Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo says he is sure his friend would have won Grands Prix for a top team by now had fate not intervened.

Bianchi tragically lost his life in 2015, after nine months spent in an induced coma following a freak accident at the previous year’s Japanese Grand Prix while driving for the minnow Marussia team.

But Ricciardo has little doubt that former Ferrari Driver Academy member Bianchi – who Ricciardo famously dedicated his 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix win to – would have achieved big things had he lived.

“He would have been in a top team and a race-winner by now for sure,” Ricciardo wrote on Twitter, in a post where he named five drivers he felt had been underrated during his time in F1.

“It wasn’t like Jules was underrated, but we never got to see him in a top car, so maybe people didn’t appreciate how good he was going to be. You think of his drive in that Marussia in Monaco in 2014, the team’s first point… Monaco is like Macau in that there’s no way to fluke a result there, it was absolutely on merit.

“As a junior through karting, Jules was the guy,” he went on. “We met training at Formula Medicine in Viareggio in Italy and everyone, even at that age when we were all 17, everyone treated him like he was an F1 driver already. I got to know him and we became friends, and I quickly got to know who he was and what he’d done before I arrived in Europe.”

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Ricciardo went on to compare Bianchi to another Ferrari Driver Academy graduate, Charles Leclerc, who followed a similar path to his godfather Bianchi en route to F1. “In some ways, I feel Charles is doing now what Jules would have been doing,” wrote Ricciardo. “It’s like Charles is the delayed version of what Jules would have done with the success he’s having.”

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Ricciardo also named Tonio Liuzzi (“the Schumacher of karting”), Roberto Merhi (“fantastic car control”) and Jenson Button (“a smooth, silky operator”) on his list of underrated drivers – while perhaps a surprise inclusion was Leclerc’s former Sauber team mate Marcus Ericsson, whose five-season, 18-point yielding F1 career ended when he lost his drive with the team at the end of 2018.

“Marcus was properly quick when we were coming through,” wrote Ricciardo. “Putting it on pole in Macau in 2009 in F3 when we were both there… you’re no Sunday driver to put it on pole there.

“As a junior Marcus was very highly rated and I felt like that reputation didn’t really last when he was in Formula 1,” added Ricciardo. “Marcus’ speed, I felt, was probably a bit underrated.”

Read the full post from Daniel Ricciardo in the tweet below...

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