Sport Motorsport ‘Breakthrough of the year’: Daniel Ricciardo’s big win
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‘Breakthrough of the year’: Daniel Ricciardo’s big win

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Australian Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo has been named Laureus’ breakthrough sports star of the year for his stellar debut season with Red Bull Racing in 2014.

The Perth-born driver was the only non-Mercedes driver to win a race in 2014, claiming three grands prix and five other podium finishes.

His award win came on the same day as two-time F1 world champion Mika Hakkinen lauded the 25-year-old Aussie as a “great driver” and a “great team player”.

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Hakkinen said he was enjoying watching Daniel Ricciardo race, despite his team’s on-track struggles.

“I think he’s a great driver,” he said.

“I’m enjoying watching his driving and his attitude.

“I think he’s a great team player. I think the team and team managers are happy to have him.

“He’s (going) flat out.”

It was a disappointing weekend for Daniel Ricciardo.
2015 has been a disappointing season so far for Daniel Ricciardo.

Ricciardo’s Red Bull Racing, whose Renault-powered cars have fallen well behind the pace of Mercedes and Ferrari this season.

His best result so far this season is sixth in Melbourne. He finished 10th in Malaysia and ninth at last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.

But Hakkinen still had high praise for the 25-year-old, who he likened to his protege and fellow Finn Valteri Bottas, who’s been a standout for Williams since the new hybrid engines were introduced last season.

“The kind of personality he is, what kind of talent he has – it’s a pleasure to work with and support a driver like that,” Hakkinen said of Bottas.

“Ricciardo is also. He’s a fantastic driver.”

Ricciardo is in Bahrain preparing for Sunday’s grand prix, but in a video message played at Shanghai’s Grand Theatre he said it was a privilege to be recognised by Laureus for his achievements last year.

“2014 is a year I’ll remember for a long time – it was definitely a breakthrough in my mind as well,” he said.

“Standing on the top step of the podium a few times was icing on the cake.”

2015 Laureus winners

World sportsman of the year

Novak Djokovic (Serbia) – Tennis

World sportswoman of the year

Genzebe Dibaba (Ethiopia) – Athletics

World team of the year

Germany (men’s) – Football

World breakthrough of the year

Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) – Formula One

World comeback of the year

Schalk Burger (South Africa) – Rugby Union

World sportsperson of the year with a disability

Tatyana McFadden (US) – Wheelchair racing/cross-country skiing

World action sportsperson of the year

Alan Eustance (US) – Skydiving

– with AAP

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