While admitting the early hits to the Formula 1 season from the COVID-19 pandemic have been painful, Daniel Ricciardo is trying to keep an optimistic view toward racing in 2020, whenever it does get underway.
The first eight rounds of the F1 season have been postponed, but Monaco immediately confirmed it would not be able to host the race at a different time and so would not be on this year’s calendar. During an Instagram live Q&A with his Renault team, Ricciardo admitted he was finding it tough knowing he wouldn’t drive in Monte Carlo this year.
“I’ve got some buggies here (at home in Australia) and I’ve made some tracks for those, so I’m getting a little bit of a racing fix in my head,” Ricciardo said. “I guess they’re releasing some of that speed and adrenaline, but I’m not racing laps in my head yet because I don’t know which track we’re going to be racing on.
“I watched an onboard of Monaco last night and got a little sad. That one hurt me. They’re all going to hurt — also Melbourne, being so close as well. The reality is setting in, unfortunately.”
Whenever the season does start up again, though, Ricciardo predicts there will be a number of fired-up drivers for the first race – something he plans to be mindful of in his approach.
“It’s going to get real. I’m thinking of qualifying last because I think Turn 1 is just going to be mayhem and I’m going to watch it all unfold and I’ll probably lead the first lap! I’ll intentionally back off … or I’ll just put it on pole and voluntarily start last! I wonder if anyone has ever done that? If anyone has ever voluntarily not started from pole for reasons of fearing being taken out by 19 others!”
The Australian is staying in his home country during the pandemic and says he has been able to focus on his training so far, while he has also been impressed by the number of people getting involved in fitness challenges around the world.
“I feel like now is kind of perfect to stay in shape because we’re forced to stay in. There’s no jet lag, there’s no airports’ we can really create a real training camp, which we don’t always have. It’s been nice, and knowing that we’ve got time, we don’t have to rush it.
“I think you’re going to see a lot of drivers — and people in general — whenever this is over, look pretty fit. I hope!
“There’s the pros and the cons, and obviously the cons of this virus, it’s affecting a lot of people in a negative way. But then I think the people who aren’t affected are seeing the up side and are actually taking advantage of being healthy and are like, ‘Well I’m actually going to do something instead of taking it for granted.’ So it’s given people perspective, which I think is good.”
An online stream during the lockdown would not be complete without an appearance from Lando Norris, who started watching the video and was called out by Ricciardo.
“He needs a new name! I feel like he’s the tech-nerd of modern day society. I’m not trying to be mean, he’s everywhere on all the platforms and all the sim racing!”