It’s been twelve years this March since Daniel Ricciardo first walked through the Melbourne paddock gates, to make his debut as a driver for our team, racing back then under the Scuderia Toro Rosso banner. It was an unforgettable experience for the lad from Perth, who started from 12th on the grid and took the chequered flag in ninth place after a crazy last lap battle with team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne, and the more experienced Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg. He picked up his first ever F1 points, while to date he has no fewer than 1317 to his name.

At this weekend’s third round of the world championship, Daniel will head out on track as the longest-serving Australian in Formula 1, with 241 starts under his belt. He is as enthusiastic about racing as he was 12 years ago and this year, he shares the affection of the fans with the promising Australian youngster, Oscar Piastri. They will carry the expectations of the crowd, who over the years have seen their fellow countrymen achieve great things, from the golden age of Jack Brabham and later, Alan Jones, to the gritty determination of our very own “Honey Badger,” all of them charismatic and competitive racers.

Of the 15 Australians who have actually started a Formula 1 Grand Prix, one stands head and shoulders above the rest. On 16 July 1955, Jack Brabham became the first Australian to race in F1, the first to score points on 18 May 1958, the first to win a race on 10 May 1959, the year in which he took the first of his three world titles, the others coming in 1960 and then in 1966, the latter when he became the first person to win the world title in a car bearing his name, under the Brabham Racing Organisation banner.

His brilliant career led to others making the long journey from the Antipodes to join the F1 circus, including the ebullient Alan Jones, who entertained the fans from the late Seventies and through the early Eighties, the highlight of his career coming in 1980 when he won the world championship with Williams. More recently, “Advance Australia Fair” has blasted out from the podium thanks to the efforts of Mark Webber, who won nine times with Red Bull Racing, while Ricciardo has picked up eight wins to date. Since the world championship began in 1950, a total of 20 Australians have been entered in Formula 1 Grands Prix, winning 43 of them and starting from pole 35 times. When it comes to points, the list is as follows: Brabham (261), Jones (206), Webber (1047.5), Ricciardo (1317), Piastri (113) and Tim Schenken, who raced from1970 to 1974, 7 points.

There have been 37 editions of the Australian GP, 11 held on the Adelaide street circuit and 26 in Melbourne’s Albert Park which hosts the race this weekend from 22 to 24 March.