Mission accomplished for Daniel Ricciardo on Sunday at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.
He met Dale Earnhardt Jr., and completed a helmet swap.
Ricciardo told NBCSN Formula 1 pit reporter and insider Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas last month he planned to see Earnhardt’s final race at Texas before he hangs up his helmet as a full-time driver at the end of the year. A lifelong fan of the Earnhardt family, Ricciardo said he wanted to see him in person.
“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well,” Ricciardo told NBCSN. “Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”
The Red Bull Racing driver will be back in action in F1 next week at Brazil, but with an off week between Mexico last week and Brazil now, he headed to Texas this weekend.
As it was, Ricciardo was a guest of Chase Elliott at Sunday’s Cup Series race and toured the grid and soaked in the atmosphere before the race. He was wearing a Dale Earnhardt No. 3 shirt, with “The Black Knight” signage.
Here’s the helmet swap, which Earnhardt said was Ricciardo’s idea. Earnhardt also said at his media availability on Friday he needs to get to a Formula 1 race.
“I’ve never been to a Formula 1 race. It’s something, you have to check that box,” he said Friday before expanding on that on Sunday, “I’m bound for an F1 race to see Daniel wheel it next year!”
SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.
The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.
Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.
Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.
But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.
It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.
Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.