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Ricciardo ‘excited’ by Singapore victory opportunity

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Daniel Ricciardo feels “excited” about his chances of victory in this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix as he bids to score his first Formula 1 win of the 2016 season.

Ricciardo has three grand prix victories to his name, all scored with Red Bull in 2014, the last coming in the Belgian Grand Prix of that year.

Red Bull’s resurgence in 2016 has seen Ricciardo rise to third in the drivers’ championship, trailing only the dominant Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

The Australian came close to winning the Monaco Grand Prix, only for a mistake in the pits by Red Bull to deny him.

With the characteristics of the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore resembling those of Monaco, Ricciardo is hopeful of his victory chances on Sunday.

“It’s obviously the next closest track to Monaco, so sure we look at it as a good chance to try to get the victory I’ve been after this season,” Ricciardo said.

“With the team, since Monaco, a lot of things have been working better, in terms of I think we’ve executed a lot more on a Sunday and I’ve left Sundays feeling a lot happier the last handful of races, so that’s been good on both sides. I feel I have executed as well good things on Sunday.

“I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself or them for this weekend but I think deep down we obviously want to win. I believe we are a group of winners, so if there is a bit of pressure on us to get it done then I think we will thrive off that.

“Let’s see what happens. I’m definitely prepared and excited.”

Ricciardo has recently helped develop the ‘shoey’ craze, after downing sparkling wine from his race boot on the podium following the German Grand Prix.

“As far as I know I started it in Formula 1 but not worldwide,” Ricciardo said.

“It was a few loose Aussies, from what I saw, the Mad Hueys, they’re surfies and fisherman and just loose guys, they travel the world fishing, surfing and whatever and they like to drink a bit of beer and whatnot, and that’s where the shoey began.

“On their travels they’d get people to do it as well and it’s just a bit of a laugh. I know Jack Miller knows a few of the guys from the Mad Hueys, so when he got his win in Assen, I suspected he was going to do it, and he did, so I thought I’d keep the Australian tradition going.

“Now Valentino [Rossi]’s got in on the mix, I saw he Instagrammed it yesterday and he said ‘everyone loves a shoey’, and ‘delicious’, and all that. A few words I used for it. I think it’s just a bit of fun now – everyone’s enjoying it.”

But just how does it taste?

“Honestly, if the sparkling wine is cold, then it tastes good,” Ricciardo said.

“Normally it’s cold on the podium, if it’s warm then sure, you’d get the sweat and that through it, but the cold taste kills the bad stuff, so it’s delicious, as we said!”

Ricciardo added that only victory in Singapore would prompt him to do another shoey.

“If I win, sure! If it’s just a second or third probably not now,” he said.

“For a victory, I’d expect to see a few people do it with me!”

Mario Andretti says Colton Herta could be next American star in F1

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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.

Mario Andretti drives his Lotus-Ford to victory in the 1978 Grand Prix of the Netherlands (Bernard Cahier/Getty Images).

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.

Scott Speed was the last American to run a full F1 season in 2006, and Alexander Rossi made the most recent F1 start by a U.S. driver in 2015. Rossi has said he has no desire to return to racing in Europe after winning the 2016 Indianapolis 500 and becoming an IndyCar championship contender.

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.

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.”

Mario Andretti with four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton before the Nov. 22, 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).

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;

Mario Andretti Colton Herta
Mario Andretti and Kyle Petty saluted “The King” by wearing their Richard Petty-style hats during the latest “Coffee With Kyle” (NBCSN).

–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.”

Watch the full “Coffee With Kyle” episode in the video above or by clicking here.

Mario Andretti looks on before the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2019 (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).