Daniel Ricciardo described the United States Grand Prix weekend as “overwhelming” as he finished fifth in front of a weekend crowd of 400,000.
The biggest ever crowd for the race at Circuit of the Americas saw a thrilling battle for victory between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, but also a popular third for Sergio Perez. From Ricciardo’s perspective, a demo run in Dale Earnhardt’s 1984 Wrangler Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
“I mean it’s so fun, it’s always so fun here,” Ricciardo said. “Sometimes I have to bring myself back a bit because I can be like a kid in a candy store and get too excited and probably burn more energy than I need to. But no, I just enjoy being here.
“Some of these places that we’ve returned to, we’ve missed them for two years. Even in a normal season when you only get to go to a place once, it’s not enough. So to miss it twice, it’s definitely good to be back.
“I think it’s just been overwhelming; the city, here at the track, the crowd, the kind of atmosphere that surrounds it, I’ve never seen it like this in Austin before. I think the first year was wild when we came here but it’s grown so much.
“Hopefully, the race was exciting enough to keep everyone entertained but fortunately there was sun and I’m sure some cold beers flowing in the stands. I saw a few shoeys on the drivers’ parade too so that was good!”
Papaya sandwich on lap 1? 🥪
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) October 25, 2021
Ricciardo was sporting a Texas basketball jersey and traditional hat ahead of the race, but then was at his aggressive best to get ahead of Carlos Sainz on the opening lap and then kept the quicker Ferrari at bay to secure fifth place.
“I was happy with the outcome of the race,” Ricciardo said. “We weren’t faster than Ferrari as Charles (Leclerc) demonstrated that in clear air he was able to pull away. We couldn’t touch him. Then Carlos was putting pressure on me the entire race. We actually had a really good battle the first lap, we went back and forth I think three times.
“I managed to get him and that set up my race and allowed me to fight for fifth, so that was really important. And then a pretty good battle with him and let’s say a strong defense, which I needed to do to hold him off because I think realistically if he’d have got me I’d have fallen back into (Valtteri) Bottas, and I think he probably would have had a much better chance of getting me as well. So fifth could have quickly become seventh, so very happy to have got a top five here in the great city of Austin, Texas.”