Daniel Ricciardo: “The Monaco Grand Prix is the real deal”

The Infiniti Red Bull Racing team arrive at the Monaco Grand Prix with a lot of work still to do as they aim to close the gap to their rivals. Daniel Ricciardo and his team mate Daniil Kvyat scored some much needed points at the Spanish Grand Prix with a seventh and a tenth place finish and will be looking to build on this.

Ricciardo feels that the Monte Carlo circuit allows a driver to have more of an influence on things that could happen during the weekend and he enjoys racing in Monaco, the challenges that it presents and also how it is important not to lose your concentration over every single lap.

“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,” said Ricciardo. “Driving a Formula One 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. It feels like a challenge.” 

Ricciardo loves the atmosphere over the race weekend, but admits the glitz and glamour isn’t something that he normally enjoys.

“The Monaco Grand Prix is the real deal,” added Ricciardo. “There’s so much energy surrounding it: the big boats; the big spenders; the cool people, the Hollywoods – it’s all there. 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.”

Team-mate Kvyat feels that circuit is of ‘high confidence’ and that it is important to get into a good momentum mentally and also on the circuit; even though he knows that it is not easy to do that straight away and that he will get to that as the weekend progresses on.

“It’s a real ‘confidence’ circuit. You need to be in tune with it. You need to find yourself, find the flow, you need to find the right approach mentally and with the car and then you just have to make it happen.

“In the beginning it’s a big test. To go out and find that confidence is not easy and you always question yourself, asking ‘when is it going to happen, when am I going to feel it enough to really go for it’. But at some point in the weekend it just happens, you find the rhythm and the lap time comes. When it works like that, when you get yourself in the right place and you find a good understanding with the track, it’s great.”

Kvyat qualified his Scuderia Toro Rosso in ninth position last year but failed to shine in the race. However, Kvyat believes in contrast to his team mate that the atmosphere of the race weekend in Monaco isn’t the best due to the demands he has, both inside and outside of driving the car; despite this he is focused on getting the best result from a place he describes as amazing.

“I did pretty well in qualifying last year (9th) but I only did a handful of laps in the race because I had a problem with the car, so I would yes,” added Kvyat. “I’m not sure there’s a special secret about it and there’s no one area that holds the key. It’s just a really massive lap, the whole thing seems to go by in one breath. It’s just as well it’s a short lap!

“In terms of the atmosphere and so on, I’ll be perfectly honest and say that, for me, it’s not the best. It’s really confined and there’s not much chance to get some space for yourself. It is totally unique and it is an amazing place but for me the trick is to try to remove myself from that and focus on what we’re there to do.”