Ricciardo aims to ‘kick ass’ in Japan GP
STILL buzzing from his Malaysia win, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo has promised to “kick ass” in Japan this weekend – and that could be bad news for Nico Rosberg. Ricciardo toasted his first Formula One victory in two years by removing his sweaty sneaker and drinking champagne from it, before offering it to Rosberg in an eccentric twist to his trademark celebration.
The German, who finished third behind Ricciardo and Max Verstappen in the other Red Bull on October 2, bravely supped the bubbly. But the Australian revealed that his Mercedes rival had not been overjoyed.
“It was probably the worst race to win because there was so much sweat in the shoe,” a grinning Ricciardo told reporters yesterday.
“In the press conference he tapped me and pulled a face and goes, ‘Don’t make me do that again, it was disgusting!’ I said, ‘You’ll have to stop me from winning next time!’ Hopefully we can kick some ass this weekend.”
Rosberg’s distress will have been softened by the fact he now holds a 23-point lead over Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton with five races left this season after the Briton suffered an engine failure in Sepang.
Ricciardo is a distant third in the standings but insisted Red Bull could still pose a threat to the rampant Mercedes, particularly with rain forecast for Sunday’s race at Suzuka.
“We definitely have a good chance here,” he told AFP. “In 2014 we were quick in that wet race and our car is as competitive now as it was then, maybe even more competitive.
“In Malaysia we got a little lucky obviously with Hamilton having his problems, but Suzuka should be a little bit better for us,” added Ricciardo, fresh from leading Red Bull’s first one-two in almost three years.
Ricciardo also admitted that the Japanese Grand Prix weighed heavily on drivers after Frenchman Jules Bianchi died as a result of injuries he sustained in that 2014 race.
“We’re pretty strong to block those things out when we put the helmet on,” he said.
“But it is a little bit emotional coming back to Suzuka since then.”
Pit crew surround Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team driver Nico Rosberg’s car during the qualifying session of the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang on October 1. After his victory in Sepang, Rosberg leads the field with 23 points heading into the Japan Grand Prix this weekend.