After taking his first official podium in Formula 1 in Spain, Daniel Ricciardo heads to his new place of residence for his first race around the streets of Monaco in the senior Red Bull team.
The 24-year-old, who has taken two previous wins around Monte Carlo in the World Series by Renault championship, has yet to finish a race in the Principality in two previous attempts.
As perhaps the biggest star to have risen in the sport in 2014, Ricciardo is hopeful of continuing his run of form this season in Monaco and break his F1 jinx.
One way he is hoping to do that is by trying to take a calmer approach onto the tight and twisting roads and try to get less caught up in the thrill of driving these cars on such a famous circuit.
“In Monte Carlo, it’s impossible to do that calm, detached racing driver thing,” he said in the official team preview, “Every year I’m determined I’m going to approach the weekend in a coldly logical way, and every year I end up bouncing up and down and getting excited. It’s just amazing!”
Last year Ricciardo was punted out by Romain Grosjean as the Lotus driver endured perhaps the lowest point of his 2013 season with that crash one of three over the course of the weekend.
Despite his recent lack of success, however, the Australian admits the whole Monaco Grand Prix experience is unmatched despite attempts by Abu Dhabi and Singapore to rekindle the magic on Monte Carlo elsewhere.
“The atmosphere in town and down at the harbour, the history of the race, the massive crowd, it’s a real buzz,” he said.
“The track is properly old-school. Driving a F1 car anywhere is special – the speed, the power and the acceleration just blows you away – but here it’s… cool.”
As for explaining the challenge and the thrill of driving a F1 car around Monaco, Ricciardo made an interesting comparison.
“I know there’s that quote about racing at Monaco being like riding a bicycle around your bathroom – well, when I was a kid, I used to love riding my little bike around inside the house,” he smiled.
“It was more fun, there were more obstacles and a bit more danger. That really is what this is like. Experience definitely helps: the driver can make a big difference if he knows the tricks that a fast lap demands.”
As for his team, Red Bull have enjoyed plenty of recent success in Monaco with Nico Rosberg’s win for Mercedes the first time a non-Red Bull driver had won since 2009.
Ricciardo’s predecessor Mark Webber enjoyed two wins in 2010 and 2012 with Sebastian Vettel claiming his only win on the Monegasque streets in 2011.
Chances of a return to the top step seem slim in the midst of Mercedes domination, but with the power advantage the Silver Arrows enjoy negated on the twisty roads most believe next weekend’s race offers the best chance yet for the world champions to battle the mighty Merc’s.
Sebastian Vettel was also praised after his drive from 15th to fourth at Catalunya, a performance that team boss Christian Horner claimed was prove the German has his “mojo” back.
Heading to Monte Carlo, Vettel too found it hard to not get caught up in the history and prestige of a race celebrating 85 years of existence in 2014.
“Monaco is one of my favourite tracks, it’s an absolute challenge,” the defending champion said, “You cannot afford to make one single mistake, because you would easily crash into the railings.”
With the narrow streets offering very little in the way of opportunities to overtake, Vettel admits there is one feeling that is perhaps more fundamental to a good weekend in Monaco than anywhere else on the calendar.
“It’s all about patience in Monaco,” he claimed. “And hoping for complete reliability as the suspension and drive are massively in demand around this extreme, uneven rollercoaster of a circuit – it’s immense.
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