If there was ever a drive to typify a season, it was Daniel’s run in the season finale in Abu Dhabi. Guiding his RB10 from the pitlane to P4, his now renowned overtaking prowess and consistency with his tyres ensured it was a season that ended with smiles all round – a big fat beaming one that hasn’t left his face all year.
It's a grin from ear-to-ear that has lit up the paddock since that first race in Melbourne and has not left it since - And why not, there have been plenty of highs to keep it prominent. From a first career win in Canada to back-to-back triumphs in Hungary and then Spa, eight podiums and 15 consecutive points finishes between Bahrain and Austin all total 238 points and third place in the drivers' championship.
We caught up with Daniel following the final test session in Abu Dhabi this week to look back at his first season with the Team. What were your expectations when you first jumped into the RB10 at winter testing, did you ever expect to finish in the top three of the drivers championship? DR: Before hopping in the car I did. That was a big target of mine, to get podiums and to try and get my first win so I figured if that was the case then the top three would've been on. But after driving the car, obviously no disrespect to anyone, but it was pretty rough in winter testing. How the season ended and how we progressed since testing exceeded expectations. We've seen some great racing over the course of this season, but what has been your three most satisfying overtakes of the season? DR: I mean the fight with Fernando (Alonso) in Hockenheim was a lot of fun, so probably those re-overtakes I enjoyed a lot. The overtake on Seb in Monza I enjoyed a lot and the one on Lewis in Hungary as well on the outside of turn 2. There have been a lot to choose from though, it's tough to narrow it down.
I think the first win is always a bit of a hurdle and to get over that was a relief.
You've notched up three fantastic victories this year, but with all the good times come some bad ones. What's been the worst moment of the season for you? DR: Fortunately there's not been too many at all apart from perhaps Melbourne and the disqualification. In saying that I still had a lot to be proud of that weekend, so yeh not too many bad moments at all. What was your most difficult win this season? DR: Probably Canada. I think the first win is always a bit of a hurdle and to get over that was a relief. I was stuck behind Perez for a long time, the laps were ticking down and I knew that if I couldn't get past then the race was over for me in terms of a victory. That was hard, it wasn't easy to pass him because they had amazing straight line speed. You always seem to have a smile on your face and we often see you joking around with the Sebastian or the boys in the garage. What has been the funniest moment you can share with us? DR: It was probably when someone got run over... Not seriously! The wheel I think gave them a bit of a clip in the early races and everyone managed to have a laugh and a joke about it afterwards. What has been your favourite night out with the Team? DR: I'd probably say Budapest. Don't get me wrong Canada was great, but I was just exhausted obviously because of the adrenaline high that weekend and then the big drop so I didn't get too crazy, but yeah Budapest. If you could do it all again, what's the one thing you'd change about your season? DR: Personally, I don't want to sound too cocky but I wouldn't change anything really. I don't really have any regrets from this season at all. That was a big target of mine, to get podiums and to try and get my first win. Has this season felt like a big stepping stone for you in your career? DR: Massive. It's just proven all the things that I had believed and it's obviously nice to prove it to myself but I think I've shown everyone else that I'm here to stay now, so to speak. Have you signed more autographs, done more interviews and been on more billboards in 2014? DR: Definitely. You'll have a new team mate next season, what was your initial reaction to finding out Danny Kvyat would be you fellow Bull in 2015? DR: It was a surprise, but also not because you can never be surprised with what Red Bull does! To be honest, I've followed him probably for the last five years and he's always been pretty quick and adapted very quickly. I really thought he had this year in Formula One, he had some fantastic showings and I wasn't too surprised in the end, I knew it would be someone from the Red Bull programme and he's young but I expect him to be quick. It should be a good battle. Do you feel added pressure going into next year based on your performances this season and how do you deal with the added weight of expectation? DR: The weight of expectation won't affect me, but the reality is now that I can win and people know that I've, shall we say, got the goods so if I'm coming sixth and seventh when they feel the car should be fourth and fifth then that obviously isn't meeting expectations but it honestly doesn't add any more pressure to me. You're involved with a number of events with fans, partners and the media. What has been your best PR day/activity away from the circuit in 2014? DR: Show runs are always a lot of fun, we've done a few this year and it's always cool to do burnouts on the streets and all that and even in Dubai last week we did some Infiniti driver days and basically got the track to myself and the chance to scare the crap out of some passengers! I'll enjoy the sun, catch up with friends and have a laugh, be young and get outdoors a bit and have some fun. We've heard you have somewhat of a sweet tooth. All Formula One drivers are on strict diets and training programmes throughout the year, but when Stu is not looking, do you sneak in a quick dessert or ice cream? DR: He's actually not here for the test, so I've just finished a bag of Maltesers – chocolates' my choice! And finally, with a well-deserved break on the horizon, what are your holiday plans? DR: I really love my job but I love holidays just as much. I just love knowing that I've got three or four weeks of no commitments in terms of business commitments and it's just about putting on casual pretty scrappy summery clothes, grabbing a cold drink of some sorts... Enjoy the sun, catch up with friends and have a laugh, be young and get outdoors a bit and have some fun.