Daniel Ricciardo says he is in an improved state of mind ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix after admitting to doubts over his desire to race at Spa following Anthoine Hubert’s death in a Formula 2 accident.
Renault academy driver Hubert was killed in a crash during Saturday’s F2 race in Belgium, which led to the cancellation of the following day’s F2 sprint race. Formula 3 and Formula 1 both completed their weekend schedules, and Ricciardo admitted that it took time for him to feel comfortable in the car again.
“I definitely felt better Sunday night after the race in terms of that felt like it released a lot of sadness, stress, emotions, so already after the race I felt like a bit of weight off my shoulders,” Ricciardo said. “For sure Saturday night I was questioning morally what was correct – if we should race, and if that is actually the right thing to do.
“I went through scenarios [where] if I didn’t get in the car, [or] feel like it wasn’t right, or feel a form of fear, then I said it is probably not worth doing the race with that kind of state of mind. I went through a lot of what-ifs.
“When I went into the car on Sunday, it was … it didn’t feel that nice in terms of, I wasn’t sure I still wanted to be out there racing. But once we actually got going, and I did my laps to the grid, and went through Eau Rouge and all that, it all actually felt OK.
“So I established it was a sadness, not a fear. If it was a fear I wouldn’t be racing. But it was just sadness. Sunday night was good. I traveled back with a few other drivers, and we spoke, and it was nice just to talk about it with other drivers. Having a few days at home in Monaco was just some normal days to reflect was OK.”
Ricciardo emphasized the importance of the drivers speaking about their concerns together after last weekend’s crash, saying it was a similar situation when Jules Bianchi suffered serious head injuries at Suzuka in 2014.
“Obviously, it didn’t happen then and there, but we knew it was bad in Suzuka,” he said. “So it was the same in Suzuka the Sunday night; I was out with some other drivers and just kind of being out together, having dinner, talking a bit about it, was already helping. Just knowing that you are not the only one feeling like this, that is already you take some comfort in that, knowing that other people are hurting and feel the same as you, and if you can talk about it, it helps.
“Unfortunately with Jules, time passes and you think alright the sport is getting safer and it won’t happen again. When it does, it is a shock because you do forget more or less, as time passes you think things get better.
“It was a shock, but we all knew on Saturday… for us who were watching the race and did see the accident, we all knew immediately that it was bad. You just have a feeling inside your tummy, and you know what is an OK accident and what is a bad one. Immediately everyone could know… unfortunately there was a feeling.
“Racing again this weekend; I have no concerns with it. Just try get back into the routine. And slowly move on like we did with Jules, but we will always remember them and there is no disrespect by moving on. But for the health of everyone, it is all we can really do.”