Named after the former Ferrari driver who died from injuries sustained in the 1967 Monaco Grand Prix, the trophy is awarded by a jury for the most impressive driver of the previous season. And this year they awarded it to Daniel Ricciardo.
The Red Bull driver, only the second Australian to receive the award, received his trophy in the Italian town of Brisighella where Bandini was from. The town's mayor and Lorenzo's sister Gabirella Bandini handed Daniel the trophy in front of a cheering crowd that also included the mayor and fans from the Sicilian town of Ficarra where the Ricciardo family is from and locals dressed in medieval costume.
The only driver outside of the Mercedes team to win races this season, Ricciardo is the 21st recipient of the prestigious award. Past winners have included world champions Jacques Villeneuve, Jenson Button, Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, who drove his Italian Grand Prix-winning Toro Rosso F1 car from nearby Faenza where the team is based and where Ricciardo got his start. Current front-runner Nico Rosberg won three years ago, and the only non-drivers to receive the award were Luca di Montezemolo and Piero Ferrari, who won last year.
BRISIGHELLA, Italy – Daniel Ricciardo joined an exclusive club of F1 greats at the weekend when he journeyed to the tiny village of Brisighella in Italy, close to the great 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, Dan's 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.
Before accepting the award, Daniel took time out to greet fans and sign autographs. And there were plenty of autographs to sign as well. Dan's well know to the F1 fans of the Emilia-Romagna region thanks to his two years at Toro Rosso, whose headquarters are just 10 minutes down the road from Brisighella in Faenza. Daniel's Italian heritage also came into play, and though a fair proportion of the fans who thronged the main square of the village were dressed in Ferrari red, they greeted Australian-Italian Dan like a long, lost son.
There was an even greater sense of "homecoming" when later Dan was introduced to Ridolfo Basilio, the mayor of Ficarra, the tiny commune in Sicily from which Dan's grandparents and his dad Joe emigrated. Basilio presented him with a medal of the town and a parcel of cakes baked especially for the Belgian GP winner. Dan also later hooked up with members of the "Fan Club Ricciardo" from the Sicilian town who had travelled overnight by coach to meet their hero. Naturally, Dan was introduced to a host of long-lost relatives.
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.
Infiniti Motor Company Ltd. is headquartered in Hong Kong with sales operations in approximately 50 countries. The Infiniti brand was launched in 1989. Its range of premium automobiles is currently built in manufacturing facilities in Japan and the United States. Production in China and Europe will start soon along with the expansion of the brand's portfolio.
As the Title Partner and Vehicle Performance Partner of Infiniti Red Bull Racing, Infiniti has a far-reaching technical collaboration with the Formula One team, and Sebastian Vettel, its four-time World Champion driver, serves as Infiniti's Director of Performance.
More information about Infiniti, its Total Ownership Experience® and its industry leading technologies can be found at www.infiniti.com. For the latest news on Infiniti, visit InfinitiNews.com, "like" Infiniti on Facebook or follow the brand on Twitter @InfinitiUSA. For interesting content on Infiniti in Formula One visit: www.infiniti-gp.com, www.youtube.com/InfinitiGP or follow on Twitter @InfinitiGP.
About Infiniti in Formula One
Infiniti, the premium automotive brand, starts the 2013 season as Title Partner and Vehicle Performance Partner of Infiniti Red Bull Racing. With a deepened technical collaboration across people, process and technologies, an 'open door' approach is enabling both sides to access a pool of innovation, new technologies and R&D resources in the shared pursuit of precision and performance.
Since the partnership's inception in 2011 it has already seen the launch of the Infiniti FX Vettel Edition and product development input from Sebastian Vettel and test driver Sebastien Buemi for the all-new Infiniti Q50 premium sports saloon. Infiniti continues to be the most visible automotive brand in Formula One, and the deepened partnership will ensure closer alignment on an increasing number of future team collaborations.
For interesting content on Infiniti in Formula One visit: www.infiniti-gp.com, www.youtube.com/InfinitiGP or follow on Twitter @InfinitiGP.