In 2014, Daniel Ricciardo will be the new face at the sharp end of the grid after the young Australian was given arguably the hardest job in F1 at present: partnering Sebastian Vettel.
Replacing compatriot Mark Webber in the second Red Bull, Ricciardo will be charged with providing the reigning World Champion with the sort of stern internal test that proved to be beyond Webber during his final years in the sport.
Red Bull evidently believe the youngster will be up to the challenge, detecting sufficient skill and speed during his unofficial audition for the role in last July's Young Driver Test at Silverstone to hire Ricciardo ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, the long-time favourite to succeed Webber.
As is the norm for up-and-coming drivers these days, Ricciardo comes from a karting background, having started as a nine-year-old before going on to win the Western Australian Formula Ford Championship driving a 15-year-old Van Diemen.
His success saw him win a scholarship into the Formula BMW Asian Championship with Eurasia Motorsport. He finished third in his debut season, taking two victories and a pole position. That year he also competed in the Formula BMW World Final with Fortec Motorsport, taking fifth place.
From there he moved to Formula Renault with Rp Motorsport, entering the European and Italian Championships of the category. He remained a part of the series in 2008, racing in the European and Western European Championships, taking his first European title in the Western European Cup and finishing second in the Eurocup to Valtteri Bottas.
The Australian moved to the British Formula Three Championship in 2009 with Carlin Motorsport and won the title by 87 points from Walter Grubmuller.
At the end of the year the Red Bull-backed starlet was handed the chance to test the energy drinks firm's F1 car in the young driver sessions at Jerez and the strong impression he made saw him named as their reserve driver for the following season, which he dovetailed with racing in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series with Tech 1 where he finished second.
And although he remained in the series for 2011, this time with ISR, Ricciardo's reputation was growing far beyond the junior categories. On the back of another impressive appearance in the Young Driver Test the previous winter, Ricciardo was given the chance to take part in Friday practice sessions with Red Bull's junior team, Toro Rosso.
There was talk that his strong performances on Fridays would see him take a race seat away from one of the two regular Toro Rosso drivers. But instead, ahead of the British GP, it was announced that Spanish backmarkers HRT had signed him for the remainder of the season in place of Narain Karthikeyan. It didn't take long for Ricciardo to take the fight to new team-mate Tonio Liuzzi, and with very few mistakes and a continuous upswing, it was the vastly more experienced Italian who was forced to make way when Karthikeyan made his expected one-off return for India's inaugural race.
Although Ricciardo's 11 grands prix for HRT ended without a single point - his best finish was P18 - it was a productive stint given the machinery at his disposal and finally earned him the call up to Toro Rosso to partner Jean-Eric Vergne at the start of 2012.
Ricciardo was in the points at the first attempt - on his home Australian GP debut no less - with ninth place, although that was the exception rather than the rule in the first half of the season as the small Italian team fell back into near anonymity.
A giant-killing sixth on the grid in Bahrain aside - which in any case unravelled on the first lap of the race - it wasn't until after the summer break in Belgium that Ricciardo hit the heights again when he finished ninth at Spa, a result followed by four further minor top-ten finishes before the season was out.
Although it was Vergne who finished one place higher in the standings, Ricciardo dominated their qualifying head-to-head - a trait which would continue in 2013.
After a modest start to the campaign, three successive top-ten qualifying results, interspersed by an impressive outing for Red Bull in July's Young Driver Test, saw Ricciardo propelled into pole position to succeed Webber.
Confirmation that he had won the fight to replace his retiring countryman followed in September, catapulting the Perth-born youngster to the forefront of F1.
Whatever happens in 2014, just don't expect the ever-affable Aussie to stop smiling.
- Infiniti Red Bull Racing
- DOB: 01/07/1989
- Nationality: Australia
- Debut: 2011 (Great Britain)
- Car Number: 16
- Races: 60
- Wins: 1
- Podiums: 4
- Career Points: 136
Pos Driver Nationality Team Pts 1 Rosberg Mercedes 190.0 2 Hamilton Mercedes 176.0 3 Ricciardo Red Bull 106.0 4 Alonso Ferrari 97.0 5 Bottas Williams 91.0 6 Vettel Red Bull 82.0 7 Hulkenberg Force India 69.0 8 Button McLaren 59.0 9 Magnussen McLaren 37.0 10 Massa Williams 30.0 11 Perez Force India 29.0 12 Raikkonen Ferrari 19.0 13 Vergne Toro Rosso 9.0 14 Grosjean Lotus 8.0 15 Kvyat Toro Rosso 6.0 16 Bianchi Marussia 2.0 17 Sutil Sauber 0.0 18 Ericsson Caterham 0.0 19 Maldonado Lotus 0.0 20 Gutierrez Sauber 0.0 21 Chilton Marussia 0.0 22 Kobayashi Caterham 0.0