Daniel Ricciardo hopes that he can provide the entertainment for the second Italian Grand Prix in succession, as he faces a start towards the back of the grid due to engine penalties.
Ricciardo qualified third at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza in wet conditions for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing in 2017, but started in sixteenth due to numerous grid penalties for engine component changes. The highlight of his move through the field was a daring pass on Kimi Räikkönen at Turn 1 to seal fourth place and the Australian hopes to have a repeat performance this weekend.
The Belgian Grand Prix was full of disappointment for Ricciardo, qualifying eighth in wet conditions due to poor timing with fuel, their afternoon effectively ended at the first corner – the 29-year-old an innocent victim of the huge crash between Nico Hülkenberg, Fernando Alonso and Charles Leclerc.
Despite re-emerging after lengthy rear wing repairs, Ricciardo retired on lap 28 with little chance of progressing through the field. The result left him behind team-mate Max Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship for the first time in 2018.
Talking about his Italian roots, if nothing goes right for him on-track, Ricciardo hopes that his favourite pizzeria will still be able to offer him a table.
“Monza is full of crazy Italian fans,” Ricciardo said.
“I love them all and it’s nice to get a bit of extra love from them with my Italian roots. Monza has the best Pizzeria in the world, but I’m not going to tell you the name as I still want to be able to go there without queuing out of the door!”
Ricciardo’s Belgian retirement did allow Red Bull to fit a new gearbox without incurring any grid penalties, but due to other components needing changing, it appears that it will make little difference. Even with the lacking performance and reliability of the Renault Sport engine, Ricciardo hopes that he can make the high-speed track work for him in the many heavy braking zones.
“The track is beautiful, high speed and awesome,” he added.
“I’ve done some of my best overtaking moves there and I plan on doing plenty more this week as it looks likely that I will be taking some engine penalties.
“It’s obviously not ideal but Monza is a power track and one that we haven’t been hugely strong at in recent years, it does mean plenty of action and fun for me in the race though.”
He assured the fans that with him coming through the field, the race will be far from processional.
“Last year I finished fourth from 16th on the grid, so it won’t be boring if I have to do the same again this year,” Ricciardo noted.
“The drivers’ parade in Monza is really special, the atmosphere is electric and the fans are definitely some of the most passionate in the world.”