Daniel Ricciardo now joins the ranks of an exclusive club of F1 greats when he journeyed to the tiny village of Brisighella in Italy, close to the legendary Imola circuit, where he became the 21st recipient of the Trofeo Bandini.
Named after the legendary Ferrari F1 driver, Lorenzo Bandini, whose childhood home was Brisighella, the prize is awarded each year to the racing driver who has most impressed the judging panel over the previous 12 months.
With three grand prix wins in his first season with Infiniti Red Bull Racing and as the only driver to break Mercedes' grip on the top step of the podium this season, his superb performances were enough to convince the judges that his name should be the next to feature on the trophy beside such stellar names as Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Robert Kubica, Fernando Alonso, Jacques Villeneuve, David Coulthard and Michael Schumacher.
"I was quite overwhelmed with the reception I received at the event. The Italians really love their motorsport," said Dan of the event. "To be awarded with the Lorenzo Bandini trophy was an honor, and to join the many great drivers on that list makes me proud." The ceremony itself was a suitably grand occasion. On Sunday, Daniel was driven from his hotel to the main square where he was greeted by hordes of F1 fans and also by a band of drummers and trumpeters dressed in full medieval costume as well as knights in full chain mail and armor.
Daniel received the prestigious trophy from Brisighella's mayor David Missiroli, with 80-year-old Gabriella Bandini, sister of the legendary Italian racer in attendance. The presentation was followed by a fireworks display, and then Daniel and the other dignitaries – including former Ferrari and current Mercedes designer Aldo Costa and Giancarlo Minardi, former owner of the team that became Toro Rosso – where whisked off to the village's Parco Ugonia where some 270 guests enjoyed a fantastic dinner beside the beautifully lit fountain and featuring local specialties and wine.