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Biography

SEASON INFORMATION
15/08/2013

 

Biography

 
Having begun Karting at the age of 9, by 15 Daniel had contested and won numerous series and it was only natural that in 2005 - yet to reach his sixteenth birthday - he made the switch to single-seaters.

In a Van Diemen which was only a few months younger than him, Daniel contested the Western Australian Formula Ford Championship, finishing the season eighth overall.

Later that same year, using a leased Van Diemen which was only slightly newer, Daniel contested the national Formula Ford series in Melbourne but sadly his car just wasn't up to it.

In 2006, having won a Formula BMW Asia Pacific Scholarship, Daniel won two races on his way to finishing third overall in the series. In addition to contesting two races in the Formula BMW UK Series with Motaworld Racing, the youngster also took part in the Formula BMW World Final with Fortec Motorsport, finishing fifth overall.

2007 saw Daniel make the switch to Formula Renault, the Australian entering the Italian championship and also a few rounds of the Eurocup with RP Motorsport. Though he finished sixth overall in the Italian series - including a podium result at Valencia - neither was particularly successful.

He remained in Formula Renault in 2008, this time contesting the European and Western European championships with SG Formula. It was a wholly better season with Daniel winning the Western European series and finishing runner-up in the other. In addition, the Australian took part in the Masters of Formula 3 and two races (Nurburgring) in the Formula Three Euroseries both with SG Formula.

For 2009 he moved up to F3 full-time contesting and winning the prestigious British championship with Carlin Motorsport. In 20 races he achieved 13 podium results including 7 wins. Along the way the Australian also made his debut in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series with Tech Racing contesting both races at Portimao.

In addition to the Masters of F3, in which he retired on the first lap with a gearbox problem, Daniel also headed to Macau with Carlin. However, despite having qualified fifth and subsequently finishing sixth in the qualification race he was one of ten drivers eliminated in a first lap accident in the main event.

At season end Daniel drove the Red Bull on all three days of the 'rookie test' at Jerez, the Australian ultimately posting the fastest overall time, indeed, the only driver to break into the 1:17s.

On 26 January 2010, Daniel was named as one of two official test and reserve drivers for Red Bull and Toro Rosso, the Australian sharing the role with Brendon Hartley. It was also revealed that the two would be teammates at Tech 1 with whom they would contest the Formula Renault 3.5 Series.

2010 was not without incident for the Australian. A cycling accident - a la Mark Webber - meant he missed the second test of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series season, while at Spa - the third round of the championship - he was relegated to last on the grid after being deemed to have hindered other drivers.

Despite a spectacular crash at Silverstone, Daniel finished runner-up to Russian Mikhail Aleshin in the championship, the Australian, who had scored four wins and eight podium finishes, missing out on the title by just two points.

In F1, for the first six races, Daniel and Hartley shared test and reserve driver duties for Red Bull and Toro Rosso, alternating race by race, however, after the kiwi was dropped from the Red Bull Driver Programme it fell to the Australian to become the sole test and reserve for both teams.

In the post-season Young Driver Test at Abu Dhabi, Daniel topped the timesheets on both days, and it came as no surprise when he was named test and reserve driver for 2011, admittedly for Toro Rosso and not Red Bull. However, many saw this as a means of keeping Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari on their toes.

As well as taking part in the Friday morning practice sessions over the course of the 2011 F1 season, Daniel contested the Formula Renault 3.5 Series with ISR Racing, hoping to go one better than he did in 2010.

Following a difficult start to his Formula Renault 3.5 season in Aragon, and again at Spa, things picked up at Monza, while he scored a vital victory in Monaco.

Shortly after the Nurburgring rounds of the series - in which he finished second and fifth - it was announced that a deal had been reached between Hispania and Red Bull which would see the Australian replace Narain Karthikeyan in the second car alongside Tonio Liuzzi for the remainder of the season, though the Indian was still scheduled to contest his home Grand Prix.

Consequently, Daniel made his F1 debut in early July at Silverstone, contesting the Formula Renault 3.5 races at the same event just a few weeks later. Considering the equipment at his disposal, and the sheer fact that he had been dropped in at the deep end (mid-season), the young Australian gave a good account of himself. In his debut F1 race he qualified last (twenty-fourth) and finished last (nineteenth) admitting that his aim was purely to get mileage under his belt as opposed to trying to set the world alight.

Little by little his confidence grew, and by Monza he was out-qualifying his far more experienced teammate and out-pacing him in the races. Indeed, though out-qualified six times, in ten outings he finished ahead of Liuzzi four times out of the five races they both finished.

Despite his lack of experience there were very few mistakes, his only retirements being the result of technical failures in Belgium and Abu Dhabi and non-classification in Italy.

Furthermore, he continued to contest the Formula Renault 3.5 series - finishing fifth overall - missing the final round only because it clashed with the Japanese Grand Prix.

It came as no surprise therefore when, in mid-December, Daniel was confirmed as a regular driver for Toro Rosso in 2012, the Faenza outfit having opted to dump both of its 2011 drivers.

It is telling that having suffered one of its worst seasons in F1, the Faenza team, which is not known for its patience and understanding, opted to retain both of its drivers for 2013. One can only assume that this was an admission of guilt from the team, that it failed to provide Daniel and Jean-Eric with a decent car.

Eighth placed Williams scored almost three times as many points as Toro Rosso, while the only teams to score less were the three newbies - all of which failed to open their accounts.

While one wants to be fair to Daniel - and his teammate - the fact is that neither appeared to have that special something, and while they were limited by the equipment at their disposal, let's not forget how Alonso wrung the neck out of the Minardi all those years ago. Like a good guitarist on a cheap, crappy guitar, real talent will out.

Having qualified sixth in Bahrain, the Australian never made it to Q3 again. Furthermore, although he only had 11 races under his belt before 2012, his rookie teammate had the better results, though they were nothing to write home about.

The one bright spot is that Daniel was one of the most consistent drivers, completing 1175 of the 1192 laps (98.6%) that comprised the 2012 season. It's not a lot but it's a start.

Looking ahead, the one bright note is that having lured James Key from Sauber, the Englishman will hopefully lift the Faenza team - he certainly seemed to make an impression in the final stages of 2012. However, Daniel has to do his part to improve the situation, as we have said before, the team isn't known for its patience.

Statistics - at the end of 2012 Season

Drivers' Titles: 0
Seasons in F1: 2
Grand Prix: 31
Wins: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0

Best result in 2012: 9th (4 times)
Best qualifying 2012: 6th (Bahrain)
Worst qualifying 2012: 18th (2 times)

2012: Out-qualified Jean-Eric Vergne 16 times
2012: Out-qualified by Jean-Eric Vergne 4 times

2012: Completed 1175 out of 1192 laps (98.6%)
2012: Finished 19 times from 20 starts (95%)

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