West coast life hits spot with Ric­cia­rdo

Mercury (Hobart) - - MOTORSPORT, SAILING, LAWN BOWLS -

DANIEL Ric­cia­rdo vis­ited Los An­ge­les for the first time about five years ago after his cousin moved there, and the Re­nault driver quickly re­alised he felt right at home.

He even bought a big house in the Hol­ly­wood hills last year. Though For­mula One keeps him in Europe for most of the year, the Aus­tralian star gets away to LA when­ever he can.

“Im­me­di­ately, it just res­onated well with me,” Ric­cia­rdo said while stand­ing in the mid­dle of Hol­ly­wood Boule­vard, his ever-present grin even broader than usual.

“The weather. Hav­ing the beaches close by.

“I feel like you can es­cape the mad­ness of it all, but you can eas­ily slip into it. There’s al­ways some­thing hap­pen­ing here. You never get bored.”

Ric­cia­rdo rel­ished the chance to bring his sport to his home away from home yes­ter­day when he joined Mercedes’ Valt­teri Bot­tas and Red Bull Rac­ing team­mates Max Ver­stap­pen and Alexan­der Al­bon for For­mula One’s Hol­ly­wood Fes­ti­val. The driv­ers showed off their F1 cars along a closed­off sec­tion of the famed boule­vard in front of Grau­man’s Chi­nese The­atre.

The star-strewn side­walks along the street were thronged with thou­sands of fans cran­ing for a glimpse of the driv­ers whose sport has world­wide pop­u­lar­ity, but makes a rel­a­tively small im­print on the lu­cra­tive US mar­ket. With the United States Grand Prix in Texas this week­end, the driv­ers were ea­ger to raise F1’s pro­file on the West Coast.

“F1 is pop­u­lar all over the world ex­cept re­ally Amer­ica, but that’s just be­cause they have a lot of other sports around here which are very pop­u­lar, so it’s very hard to com­pete,” said Ver­stap­pen, 22.

“More races would help, or hav­ing an Amer­i­can driver.”

Ric­cia­rdo and Ver­stap­pen see sev­eral rea­sons to think For­mula One will get big­ger state­side in up­com­ing years. Along with the steady growth since 2016 of the Amer­i­can Haas F1 Team, the Amer­i­can own­ers of For­mula One are at­tempt­ing to add a sec­ond USbased race in Mi­ami.

The race faces sig­nif­i­cant ob­sta­cles and lo­cal op­po­si­tion ahead of its pro­posed 2021 start, but F1 CEO Chase Carey has said he is com­mit­ted to pur­su­ing it.

For­mula One held a street course race in Long Beach, Cal­i­for­nia, from 1976 to 1983.

The United States Grand Prix West was pop­u­lar among teams and fans, and its win­ners in­cluded Niki Lauda, Nel­son Pi­quet, Gilles Vil­leneuve and Mario An­dretti.

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