Ricciardo predicts "chaos" when racing resumes


If - and it remains a big if - F1 gets the all-clear to hit the track at Spielberg in early July, it will be over four months since the end of pre-season testing and seven months since the 2019 season finale in Abu Dhabi.

Courtesy of the pandemic, the only track action drivers have experienced in the meantime has been of the virtual kind, and while some have taken it more seriously than others, the number of mega-incidents from which 'they walked away' has probably led to a certain amount of overconfidence.

This, combined with the obvious 'race rust' after seven months of waiting, causes Daniel Ricciardo to fear that chaos will ensue in Austria.

"(It will be) some form of chaos, hopefully in a controlled manner," he told BBC Radio 5 Live. "I am not really referencing cars everywhere... but there is going to be so much rust, a combination of emotion, excitement, eagerness.

"Everyone is going to be ready to go," he continued. "You are going to get some guys who perform on that level of adrenalin and others who might not. So you're going to get some bold overtakes, some miscalculated ones. You're going to see a bit of everything, I'm sure."

Asked if it will take him time to acclimatise to the cockpit again, he said: "If this was my first year or two in F1, if I was still not completely adapted to it, my answer would be yes.

"But winter testing is normally a good reference point," he continued. "My first few winter testings, day one always felt like a bit of a shock to the system again. And the further my career has gone on, the less of a shock that has been.

"The rookies, the first-year, second-year guys, will feel it a little bit more," he warned.

In the final year of his contract with Renault, the Australian is already being linked with a number of rival teams, including Ferrari, should Sebastian Vettel not agree terms with the Maranello outfit. One of several drivers previously tipped as a potential world champion, Ricciardo is aware that he needs to be in a front-running team again.

"My basic target with this whole journey was not just get into F1, it was to leave a world champion," he said. "Was I excited to get to F1? Absolutely. Do I love it? Yes. I haven't got there yet. But am I still enjoying it? Absolutely.

"But if it ended today would I be disappointed? A big part of me would be because it's something I really believe I am good enough to achieve, so I would feel it has left smelting on the table.

"That is the ultimate goal. The day I stop believing I'm able to get that any more it is the day you'll probably see me walk away from the sport, but I certainly still believe this can happen.

"It's frustrating that the sport is driven quite a lot by being in the right equipment in the right season," he admits. "But it's what I signed up for. And that in itself is an exciting part of the sport. The challenge is to position yourself with the best team at that moment and when rule changes come in, it's, like, is that still the right team to be with, or are we missing something? Do we need to try to build on what we've got here?

"It's kind of like chess a lot of the time," he continued. "I wish it was black and white and everyone had the same and we could go and see who was the best, but that is not how it works. But I do feel that the best will always find a way to make it to the top."

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Published: 09/05/2020
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