Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo is relishing the chance to hit the streets of Monaco next weekend as Formula 1 prepares for its annual glamor event.
Mixing opulence with speed, the risk and reward of racing at Monaco is higher than at any other circuit in the sport, with the imposing walls waiting for any driver that pushes too hard or makes a mistake.
Although the fine margin of error may be a concern for some drivers, Ricciardo is only buoyed by the challenge, and is excited to be heading back to Monaco next weekend.
“From the driver’s point of view – and maybe teams see it differently – the best thing about coming to Monaco is that it’s a circuit where the driver has more influence on events,” the Australian said.
“Driving a Formula 1 car anywhere is special – the speed, the power and the acceleration just blows you away – but here it’s like trying to do a lap in a supermarket, and that’s just so, so cool.
“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. It was more fun, there were more obstacles and a bit more danger.
“That really is what this is like: You have the walls around the circuit and the bumps on the track that make it a bit more real. The circuit has a lot of character; you can feel that in the car.
“You can’t afford mistakes, your concentration levels rocket and you tend to amaze yourself with how quickly you manage to do everything. Just completing a lap feels like an achievement.”
The race is one of the most popular on the F1 calendar for celebrities and other big public figures, and although the social side of the event is not Ricciardo’s main interest, the Red Bull driver admitted that it does add a certain buzz to proceedings.
“There’s so much energy surrounding it: the big boats; the big spenders; the cool people, the Hollywoods – it’s all there,” Ricciardo said.
“I wouldn’t say I’m massively into that stuff at any other time of the year, but it creates a crazy atmosphere over the weekend here and that really makes the adrenaline rocket.”
Mario Andretti’s last Formula One victory is also the last by an American driver in more than 42 years on the international open-wheel road racing series.
If you had told Andretti that while he was celebrating on the Grand Prix of the Netherlands podium on Aug. 27, 1978 at the Vandzoort circuit, he wouldn’t have believed it.
“Absolutely not,” Andretti told Kyle Petty during the most recent “Coffee With Kyle” episode (video above). “It’s a shame. Somehow we have so much talent here, and either there’s no invitation or something there. But I think it’s time to give some of this young talent that, in my opinion, is absolutely capable.”
The Dutch GP was the last of Andretti’s 12 victories in F1 and came during his championship season. No one since has come close to matching his success in F1.
Andretti’s son, Michael, took a full-time ride with McLaren in 1993 but left with three races remaining in a season marred by crashes and mechanical problems.
But Mario Andretti believes Andretti Autosport has another rising star with F1-caliber ability.
“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” Mario Andretti said. “As a young lad, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there. He’s trained. He’s showed in his rookie season and won some premium races at COTA (and Laguna Seca), beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon.
“This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the U.S. colors again.”
Herta, 20, seems interested in exploring an F1 leap over the next few years. After winning Sept. 13 at Mid-Ohio from the pole position (his third career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series), the No. 88 Dallara-Honda driver is ranked fourth in the standings in his sophomore year and regarded as one of the series’ top prospects.
If #F1 wants to start looking around for an American driver, Colton Herta has a suggestion for where that search should start. https://t.co/71PVeu6aBj
Herta recently told RACER.com “I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack” but said he also would be happy driving in IndyCar and IMSA.
A naturalized U.S. citizen who told Petty about spending several years with his family in an Italian refugee camp before coming to America, Mario Andretti said F1 brought an enormous sense of patriotic pride.
“Formula One is like the Olympics in a sense,” he said. “You’re in a different country, a different continent. When you earn that highest step of the podium, they play your national anthem. That’s when you take nothing for granted. You feel like I’m representing my country, and the proudest moments are those.
“I’d just like to see some other American drivers experience that. It’s time.”
During the “Coffee With Kyle” conversation, Andretti also discussed:
–His versatility as a winner in IndyCar, sports cars, NASCAR and Formula One;
–His 1967 Daytona 500 victory and how he enjoyed racing with crew chief Jake Elder at the famed Holman-Moody team;
–Why he delayed his entry to F1 for a few years because of his earnings power in IndyCar. “I always say I’d race for free, but at the same time, you’re thinking of family and the future,” he said. “It was in the back of your mind that you can’t give up the earning power of IndyCar. That kept me from going full time in Formula One, but I always said that sometime in my career, I’d have to devote a period to Formula One.”
–On what it was like racing in an era when driver deaths were more prevalent. “If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to dwell on those negatives,” Andretti said. “There’s no way. You knew it was present. Especially in the ‘60s at the beginning of the season at the drivers meetings, you couldn’t help but look around and say, ‘I wonder who is not going to be here at the end of the season.’ We’d lose four to five guys. In ’64, we lost six guys.
“It’s something if you dwell on that, you’re going to take on a different profession. It’s a desire and love to want to drive that overcame all that and then the confidence it’s not going to happen to me. And then you pray.”