TG chats with Daniel Ricciardo

Posted by Niharika Ghorpade at 11:04 am on Monday July 24, 2017

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Even as he arrived into the race at Baku, Azerbaijan, the Australian took time out to speak to Niharika Ghorpade about his season so far, the team and why Lewis or Sebastian would dread to be on the podium if he wins again…

Niharika Ghorpade : Daniel how do you think your season is going so far?

Daniel Ricciardo: I think the last few races should have been better. Any time you get on to the podium you feel a bit better. So to have three in a row is good. For sure we would love to be fighting for first. A part of me is pleased with the last few races but from the start of the season we would have preferred to be where Mercedes or Ferrari are right now.

NG: Your teammate Max Verstappen seems to have an edge over you in qualifying. Have you figured out why?

DR: I think this year the cars have been pretty challenging to drive and I feel we are still trying to perfect the setup and everything. Maybe sometimes I am probably too sensitive about some settings and you know, I am trying to perfect the car but its hard to get it perfect. So, maybe yeah perhaps these are some things, which I need to work on.

NG: Is it the tyres?

DR: I think its a combination. The tyres are quite tricky and the aerodynamics of this year’s car. It seems like you have more grip, but if you are driving the correct way you can use it but if you are not then you are fighting a lot more. It’s been probably a more challenging race car to drive, but I feel like I am getting better with the car and package.

NG: So, would you then say that Red Bull Racing is done with its early season struggles? Because you have almost had Force India biting at your feet at some stages...

DR: Yeah they (Force India) have been strong. I think our main struggles are behind us and we can only get better from now. But until we are winning we are always going to be struggling with something. The whole year will be a year of progression, but I believe from this point the progression will be better and better.

NG: In terms of performance when it comes to a team like Force India giving you guys a run, how much of it attributes to the chassis and how much to the engine?

DR: We know that Force India is running the Mercedes and that is a very strong engine and that assures a bit of an advantage they have. But I think you can have a great engine but you still need a good car. I think Force India always produces something that gets then in the top five and even podiums. Even the drivers, we know Perez is a very good driver and Ocon has started to show his ability so they have a good package and they're doing a good job. Their chassis for sure is not too bad.

NG: Are you comfortable with your chassis at Red Bull Racing?

DR: We are getting more comfortable and I think at the start of the season, myself and Max weren’t particularly comfortable with it. It was quite difficult to drive and find the right level of grip. It was what we call ‘a bit on the knife-edge’, so its (grip) there on one lap and not the next, so you are kind of fighting your own battle as well. Since probably Monaco, I think the aerodynamics of the car has started to work more and more in our favour.

NG: There have been a lot of changes in Formula 1 on and off the track. You are someone who is digitally more evolved. How do you feel the changes off the track have been such as fan engagement, etc? And do you feel F1 has become more American thanks to its new owners?

DR: I think its improving…it’s getting there. They are starting to atleast try some events, fan engagement, or in Barcelona where they tried a bit of a bar side at the paddock. It’s like a social area, cause in the paddock a lot of the time, its like if you are a guest of Red Bull, you stay with Red Bull, if you’re a guest of Ferrari you stay with Ferrari. But to have a bit of a public area inside the paddock, where people can mingle is great. I think what Liberty Media is doing is good and I think their experience with American sport is obviously going to help Formula 1. I like sport in general and I also follow a lot of American sports, and even when you go to an event, whether it is a basketball game or something, you leave the event asking yourself did I watch just basketball? For sure its cool, I like the way they are at least experimenting.

NG: This season has been exciting but it is still mostly a two-team fight. How long before the former big boys like Red Bull, McLaren, and Williams get into the mix and make it a proper contest?

DR: A combination of the car improving and the circuits suiting our car, by Budapest I think we should start to really fight and not necessarily rely on one of the fast cars having a problem. I would say that for McLaren, I think, for now they are going to struggle until they figure out the power unit. I think their chassis isn't probably too bad but they’re just having a lot of problems with the power unit. And Williams is a bit like Force India, some tracks the can be really strong and if Massa wouldn't have had a crash in Montreal, I think they would have been in the fight with me or Perez and everyone else.

NG: Last time when you won a race you gave a shoe to Nico Rosberg and he said that ‘I hope he never wins again’. Do you think he cursed your wins? And also who is your next shoe target? Why haven't Sebastian or Lewis been your shoes targets?

DR: In Montreal I wasn't planning on doing it but I could hear the crowd chanting ‘shoey’ and at first I thought they were cheering. Then I listened and I was like I know exactly what they are saying. I did it and then Sir Patrick Stewart was so into it that he did it, and then I was like alright, it’s been great and I’ll just stop here. I just end it on a high and didn't give it to Lewis. But after that I said to Lewis, that if I win one and you’re on the podium with me, I don't care what you say, you got to do one. And he was like ‘Ah, we’ll see, we’ll see’. I think Lewis and Seb will be good because I know it’s probably the last thing on earth they would want to do, which is drink from my shoe. So my plan is to get them to do it, but I need to win.

NG: And what about Nico Rosberg’s curse, do you think you should ask the reigning champion to take his words back?

DR: (Laughing) its not .. I think it was because I saw his face when he did it, and he was really disgusted. So I would say it was just out of disgust.

After these prophetic words, the Australian went on to win the chaotic Baku GP that weekend which also resulted in young Lance Stroll drinking champagne from his shoe

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