Ricciardo: It’s been hectic and mentally I was fried too

Daniel Ricciardo enjoyed a triumphant weekend in Monaco, he was unbeaten in all the sessions, starting from pole and then claiming his first win at Formula 1’s most glamorous and iconic street race, but admits he was mentally fatigued needing downtime to recover and relax afterwards.

The Red Bull driver celebrated in style with his mother and father as well as his team, milking the occasion to the max. Ricciardo’s memorable swan dive into the Red Bull Energy Station pool is now etched in history.

As the F1 circus heads to Montreal, the big smiling Australian has re-emerged and told the story of his famous weekend at the Principality to Red Bull Australia motorsport editor Matthew Clayton, “It’s been a hectic, hectic time since Monaco.”

“Some good celebrating, I won’t lie (once I got to it, I’ll come back to that) and it’s awesome to finally be a Monaco Grand Prix winner but I’ve needed some downtime afterwards, so that’s why I’m out in Los Angeles between races, seeing some sun, my parents are here and we’re just taking things quietly. It was required, for sure.”

“But back to why I had something to celebrate. You probably saw the look I had on my face after the race at Monaco, where you pull up on the start-finish straight and head for that podium, which is pretty unique in the royal box.”

“I was obviously stoked to win, but there were parts of me that were relieved, parts that were exhausted, and parts of me that couldn’t help but think back to two years ago when I should have won there. Sort of felt like it should have been a celebration for a second time.”

“Mentally, I was fried too. Monaco is always a long week, there’s a lot going on outside of the car, and with practice starting on Thursday there instead of Friday like it does everywhere else, it does take a lot out of you.”

“For me, only Melbourne compares because of the commitments we have, and you add that to the fact it’s in your adopted home as well and there’s so many people around, your energy levels start to run empty. Some of that was self-inflicted, to be fair, because I’d put a lot of pressure on myself all week this year to try to win it. Once I did that, I was gassed.”

“The race itself, you all know what happened when I had a power issue, and at that stage there were 50 laps until the end. I’m not someone who is superstitious, but the first thought that came into my head was: what do I have to do to win this thing? I felt the power loss, and as soon as you feel something like that, you’re thinking it’s terminal and there’s no way back.”

“Being in a good position in any race and have something go wrong sucks obviously, but the fact it was Monaco, I was in front like 2016, and it looked like ending badly, you’re not really analysing it, you’re just emotionally flat. The whole weekend had gone so well – quickest on Thursday like 2016, pole like 2016 – that I couldn’t get my head around it ending badly again.”

“When I lost power in the race, it wasn’t some gradual build-up, it was instant. I felt it and I heard it, I put my foot down and the noise that came back to me wasn’t what I was expecting. It sounded sick, basically. I was around Turn 3, Turn 4, around the Casino Square area when it went. Not cool. But as you saw, we managed it.”

“The team gave me the info that they could without telling the whole world and everyone behind me what the drama was (not easy!) and then it was up to me to make the adjustments, drive differently, keep things under control and keep that track position, which around there is so important.”

“It was a long old 50 laps and I didn’t need that virtual safety car near the end when (Charles) Leclerc and Brendon (Hartley) had their accident, that got the heart rate up a bit. But we got it done. Explains why I felt a bit mentally fried, really.”

“The celebrations I spoke about? You saw some of them. But the reality of the Sunday celebrations was that they were pretty tame. The whole thing was a whirlwind. After the race, I did my media commitments before walking back onto the Red Bull Energy Station. It was like the Queen had arrived, I got this massive ovation, and then it was straight up to the pool and the photos and video up there that you’ve seen.”

“I had to then run down to my drivers’ room to have a shower to get out of my race suit so I didn’t catch pneumonia, the pool water was freezing! Did two TV interviews, and then I had to go off to this gala dinner with Monaco’s royalty. Got a boat back to my apartment, my Mum was already there getting my suit out and ready for me. I stayed at the dinner until 12.30am, then got back home.”

“I was tired, my mates who were in town for the race had already gone out, but I didn’t have the energy to do the same. So – I’m not joking – had a beer in bed and tried to run through the day in my mind and what had happened. Glamourous, huh?”

“The good news was that Monday in Monaco is always one of the bigger celebrations of the year, so I caught up with my mates that morning and we enjoyed the day, for sure. I had 10 mates in for the weekend, some from Europe and some from Oz, and I always tell anyone who comes to Monaco to make sure they fly out on Tuesday. It was definitely good to be the reason to celebrate properly this time.”

“Back to the on-track stuff, and more specifically qualifying, which is one of the coolest sessions of the year. When you’re looking for one absolutely nailed-on lap around there, low fuel, you can thrash the tyres, leave nothing on the table – it’s a massive rush. There were parts of it that had more aggression, more oversteer and that sort of thing, but it was just clean.”

“I knew what I had to do, and I felt like I didn’t need to drive at 101 percent to get the timeout. I was really happy with it, and when I crossed the line after the first lap I did in Q3, the one that got pole for me, I actually asked my race engineer Simon (Rennie) how much faster we were than the others because it felt like a pole lap. I didn’t need to ask him what position we were, I knew.”

“We had Pirelli’s hypersoft tyre for the first time in Monaco too, the softest one they’ve had, and we’re using it in Canada this weekend as well. It’s exciting to have a softer tyre that feels like a genuine qualifying-style tyre and will drop off in performance in the race, and looking back to Monaco, it makes me really excited for Canada because we managed it well in the race.”

“In Monaco, the team pitted me and I actually felt there was more performance in it, it wasn’t like I was desperate to get rid of them, and generally I reckon we managed those tyres better than the others.”

Formula 1 now heads to Round 7 in Canada, with Ricciardo third in the championship standings but also arrives in Montreal on the backfoot as he will be taking engine related grid penalties for the replacement of the MGU-K that failed on his Red Bull during the race in Monte-Carlo.

Ahead of the race weekend, Ricciardo said, “Canada means good memories for me of course with my first win back in 2014, seems like a long time ago now. Strangely enough it hasn’t been a track where I’ve done all that well, I had that win and a third last year, and not a whole lot else.”

“But Montreal is a cool city for us to go to and I like the track, it’s a bit old-school and you have to be able to attack those chicanes and use the kerbs.”

“Of all the places we go to, it’s a bit like Melbourne – semi-permanent street circuit in a public park, the city is close, there’s water, the fans are always there in big numbers and early in the day because there’s always other categories on track … feels a bit like my home race.”

“There’s nothing like going to the next race weekend when you’ve just won, and I know there’s a lot of chat about whether I’m a genuine title contender now I’ve won two out of the first six races.”

“We’ll have to see about that. If I get another one or two before the mid-season break, then maybe that’s the answer…” concluded Ricciardo.