For a fourth straight year, there are no Italian drivers on the Formula One grid this season, and while the tifosi at Monza directed plenty of attention towards Sebastian Vettel last weekend, there was more than a smattering of support for Daniel Ricciardo.
As the son of an Italian who emigrated to Australia, Ricciardo is the closest thing the locals have to a ‘local’ driver, and Ricciardo has always loved the Italian Grand Prix, staying in his motorhome near the circuit and soaking up the atmosphere at one of the sport’s most iconic tracks.
It was always going to be a tricky weekend for Ricciardo and Red Bull Racing after it elected to fit new engines for the Australian and teammate Daniil Kvyat. Better to take the pain of grid penalties at a circuit that would only magnify Red Bull’s straight-line speed deficit more than any other in preparation for the next race at a track that’s the complete opposite in Singapore – and a track where they have the potential to do as well as they did in Hungary at the end of July.
All but sacrificing a good result on one weekend in the hope that it’ll pay off at the next race isn’t how Red Bull wants to go racing, but what other choice do they have this season? Other than not lashing out when it doesn’t win time after time after time, I mean? In the circumstances, Ricciardo’s charge from the back to the points was hugely meritorious. That his Renault engine lasted long enough for him to make it was, frankly, astonishing.
A review of the Italian Grand Prix features on this week’s episode (number 117 for those counting, mainly me) of ‘The Inside Line’. Check it out.