F1 Racing - - DAN'S THE MAN -

Se­bas­tian Vet­tel; wel­come Daniel Ric­cia­rdo. “This is the 1!” scream the posters. And there is Daniel, all over Mel­bourne, in cof­fee shops, su­per­mar­kets, bus stops and bed­room walls, all smiles and sweat and eyes moist with the emo­tion of victory. Dan mi­nus bag­gage, too: no Mark Web­ber cham­pi­onships al­most-won; no Aus­tralian Grands Prix that should have been. This is Dan, as they call him in Oz, with life ahead of him. Three wins in 2014. What next in Mel­bourne?

The fans know that they can carry him – lift him as they used to lift Lley­ton He­witt in the nal set, or the Thorpedo in the Olympic freestyle nal, or the Aussies in the de­cid­ing overs of the Cricket World Cup. That’s what the Aus­tralian fans al­ways do: they sur­pass the bound­aries of mere sport. They make it a life thing. Dan is their man.

Ex­cept that this is F1. Noth­ing is more im­por­tant than the cars in which the driv­ers sit. Red Bull have had a difcult win­ter. The Re­nault power unit hasn’t had the same im­prove­ments as the Fer­rari – and Mercedes are still ahead of them both. Dan and his new team-mate, Daniil Kvyat, have cov­ered com­par­a­tively lit­tle ground in testing. Can it all come good in Australia?

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