Ricciardo relishing return to Silverstone for British GP

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Daniel Ricciardo has made no secret of his excitement ahead of next weekend’s British Grand Prix as he prepares to return to one of his favorite circuits.

Ricciardo made his Formula 1 debut at Silverstone four years ago, racing for minnows HRT for the second half of the 2011 season before being signed by Toro Rosso for 2012.

Since then, much has changed. The Australian has become a multiple grand prix winner and third-place finisher in the drivers’ championship, leading Red Bull’s charge in 2014.

However, his adoration for Silverstone has not wavered one bit.

“I can’t hide it!” Ricciardo said. “Silverstone’s awesome.

“I love high-speed circuits with high-speed corners. The run from Copse through Maggotts, Becketts, Chapel and then around Stowemaybe – the five coolest corners on the calendar and to have them coming at you one after the other. Yeah, I love it.”

Reflecting on his debut with HRT back in 2011, Ricciardo explained how exciting it was to attack Silverstone behind the wheel of an F1 car for the very first time.

“So at the time it was probably the quickest I’d ever been around the circuit because the HRT was just about faster than the old-spec FR3.5 car,” he said.

“It’s definitely a circuit where, the faster the car, the better the experience – though that’s usually the case with highspeed tracks. I mean, Silverstone’s great in a Formula Renault 2.0. In an F1 car? Epic.”

One of the most striking aspects of Silverstone for Ricciardo is the atmosphere provided by the local fans, regardless of the weather.

“The thing about Silverstone is that it’s packed from Thursday onwards,” Ricciardo said.

“If we have one of those nice, hot blue-sky sunny weekends then the atmosphere’s amazing. If it’s grey, wet and windy then the atmosphere’s still amazing.

“I’m not sure how that’s possible – but Silverstone manages it. As for driving in those conditions, it’s still exciting – but in a very different way!”

Kyle Busch interests McLaren for Indy 500, but team is leaning toward experience

McLaren Indy Kyle Busch
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With Arrow McLaren SP heavily weighing a fourth car for the Indy 500 next year, Kyle Busch is a candidate but not at the top of the IndyCar team’s list.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown addressed the possibility Wednesday morning during a video news conference with Gavin Ward, the team’s newly named racing director.

“I have not personally spoken with Kyle Busch, but you can read into that that someone else in our organization has,” Brown said. “We want to make sure if we run a fourth car, we’re in the mindset that we want someone that is experienced around the 500. It’s such an important race, and from a going for the championship point of view, we’ve got three drivers that we want to have finish as strong as possible, so if we ran a fourth car, we’d want to be additive, not only for the fourth car itself, but to the three cars and so bringing in someone who’s not done it before potentially doesn’t add that value from an experience point of view.”

Busch will race the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing next season in NASCAR under a new deal that will allow the two-time Cup Series champion to make his Indy 500 debut. Busch, who had a previous deal to run the Indy 500 nixed by Joe Gibbs Racing, openly courted Chevy IndyCar teams to contact him during his introductory news conference with RCR last month.

After Team Penske (which has given no indications of a fourth car at Indy alongside champion Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin), McLaren is the second-best Chevy organization, and it’s fielded an extra Indy 500 car the past two years for Juan Pablo Montoya. The Associated Press reported last month that McLaren was in “serious conversation” about running Busch at Indy with Menards sponsorship.

But with its restructured management, the team is in the midst of significant expansion for 2023. AMSP is adding a third full-time car for 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi to team with Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, and a massive new shop also is being built in the Indianapolis area.

“(It’s) not because of him but purely because of experience,” Brown said of Busch. “He’s an awesome talent and would be huge, huge news for the speedway. But yeah, I think everyone is under consideration if we decide to do it, but experience is right at the top of the list as far as what’s going to be the most important to us.”

And it seems likely there will be a veteran joining Rossi, O’Ward and Rosenqvist at the Brickyard.

“A fourth car at the 500 is very much under consideration,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t even want to get ahead of ourselves, but we wouldn’t be ruling out a fourth car in the future on a full-time basis. That definitely wouldn’t be for ’23. But as we expand the team and get into larger facilities and things of that nature, it’s something that Gavin and I have spoken about.

“I think we would be in a position to run a fourth car at the 500 this upcoming year. If we do decide to do that, we’ll make that decision soon for maximum preparation, and I would say we’re open minded to a fourth car in ’24 and beyond and probably will make that decision middle of next year in time to be prepared if we did decide to do that.”

Brown also addressed the future of Alex Palou, who will be racing for Chip Ganassi Racing next season after also signing a deal with McLaren. Though Brown declined to get into specifics about whether Palou had signed a new deal, he confirmed Palou will continue to test “our Formula One car from time to time.

“Everyone has reached an amicable solution,” Brown said. “We’ve now had Alex in our Formula One car as we have Pato. That will continue in the future, which we’re quite excited about. At this point we’re laser-focused on 2023 and glad to have the noise behind us and now just want to put our head down and get on with the job with the three drivers we have.”