Daniel Ricciardo has named five drivers he has raced against during his Formula 1 career as his most underrated rivals.

With the 2020 F1 season delayed by the ongoing coronavirus crisis, Ricciardo has reflected on his F1 career so far and picked out the drivers he thinks were unfancied, for a variety of reasons, when looking back on their respective careers.

Topping the Renault driver’s list is former Sauber and Caterham driver Marcus Ericsson who Ricciardo often battled during his junior career before reaching F1.

“As a junior Marcus was very highly rated and I felt like that reputation didn’t really last when he was in Formula 1,” Ricciardo said in a letter posted from his Twitter account. “The speed though, that was definitely there.”

Another notable name Ricciardo picks is the late Jules Bianchi who he felt was destined for F1 greatness before his tragic death following his accident at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.

The Australian driver has compared Charles Leclerc to Bianchi, who was the Ferrari driver’s godfather, and says the success Leclerc is currently producing is what he expected Bianchi to being doing.

“I feel Charles is doing now what Jules would have been doing,” Ricciardo said. “It’s like Charles is the delayed version of what Jules would have done with the success he’s having.”

Also making Ricciardo’s underrated F1 driver list is his first teammate in the sport Tonio Liuzzi when the pair were at opposite ends of their respective careers in 2011.

Ricciardo says Liuzzi “was the Schumacher of karting” when he was growing up but admits he underestimated the Italian’s speed when they were teammates at HRT.

“I remember Budapest my first year, 2011, and I thought I’d nailed my qualifying lap and he still pipped me, and I was thinking, ‘alright, this guy is quick’. For raw speed, 100 per cent he had it,” he explained.

Completing his list is Robert Merhi, who spent one season racing in F1 in 2015, and 2009 world champion Jenson Button.

Ricciardo says Merhi was another hotly-tipped youngster, having won the 2011 Formula 3 Euro Series title, but his driving style never suited the F1 cars when he made his debut.

Button, on the other hand, is a driver whose talents Ricciardo feels were not highly thought of during his career. But instead of picking out his title-winning 2009 F1 season, Ricciardo says he was most impressed by his 2011 campaign when he beat Lewis Hamilton when the pair were McLaren teammates.

“Jenson had some big years in F1, but I think 2011 when he was teammates with Lewis at McLaren and beat Lewis fair and square – that’s no easy feat as we all know – was what gets him onto my list,” he explained.

Ricciardo also gave honourable mentions to Robert Kubica and Paul Di Resta while teasing a second list of his five most overrated drivers.

“I’ve got one,” he said. “But I’ll keep that one in my own head until I’m done racing…”

 

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