Daniel Ricciardo believes Australian motorsport is in a healthy position, paving the way for more local racers to feature on the Formula 1 grid going forward.

    Mr Ricciardo, an eight-time Grand Prix winner who currently races for Visa Cash App RB, is one of two Australian drivers to hold a full-time seat for 2024 alongside McLaren’s Oscar Piastri.

    Jack Doohan, son of five-time MotoGP World Champion Mick Doohan, is also on the cusp of a seat as the Alpine F1 Team reserve driver.

    If all three were to start in the same race it would be the first time that three or more Australians have competed simultaneously since the 1970s.

    Speaking to CarExpert at Honda Australia’s head office in Melbourne, Mr Ricciardo expressed his confidence in Australia’s motorsport system.

    “I think we’re doing a good job,” said Mr Ricciardo.

    “There’s 20 of us, myself and Oscar are two of those 20 but then there’s Jack Doohan who’s a reserve driver as well, he’s right on the edge and it’s so close to having three of us full-time. 

    “I think our racing, our program, our karting and everything is really strong in Australia.”

    After Mark Webber’s exit from F1 at the end of 2013, Daniel Ricciardo was the sole Australian driver until 2023, when Victorian Oscar Piastri kicked off his career as a 21-year-old.

    Mr Piastri has managed two podium finishes since his debut last March.

    Sold-out crowds are expected to catch a glimpse of the two local hopefuls at the 2024 Australian F1 GP over the weekend, and Mr Ricciardo sees Mr Piastri as an inspiration to the younger fans in the stands.

    “Having Oscar that next generation behind me then inspires his generation and the one behind him – it was Mark Webber for me,” said Mr Ricciardo.

    “I think that’s also really influential for a kid to realise a dream and try to pursue it, having someone’s footsteps to follow. 

    “Maybe a 12-year-old kid can’t relate to me as much as they can relate to Oscar. He’s that next inspiration for them and hopefully that cycle keeps going.”

    A total of 18 drivers have represented Australian in Formula 1 dating back to the 1950s, with Jack Brabham (1959, 1960, 1966) and Alan Jones (1980) both claiming championships.

    Mr Ricciardo sits fourth on the list for race wins by an Australian with eight, behind Brabham, Jones and Webber.

    The 2024 Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix takes place at 3pm this Sunday, March 24.

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    Josh Nevett

    Josh Nevett is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Josh studied journalism at The University of Melbourne and has a passion for performance cars, especially those of the 2000s. Away from the office you will either find him on the cricket field or at the MCG cheering on his beloved Melbourne Demons.

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