Why Monaco is magic for Ricciardo

The Red Bull racer reveals his five favourite things about the most prestigious race in F1.

THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON REDBULL.COM.AU

Let’s face it, it doesn’t take much to get Daniel Ricciardo to smile – but the wattage on the Red Bull Racing star’s grin is brighter than usual when the Monaco Grand Prix comes around each year. The Perth-born 26-year-old isn’t likely to have a Formula One race held in his backyard in the capital of Western Australia any time soon, but as a resident of the world’s most glamorous principality for the last three years, Monaco is a ‘home’ race, and one that he embraces.

Ahead of this week’s sixth round of the 2016 F1 world championship, here’s Ricciardo’s five favourite things about the Monaco Grand Prix.

1. It’s even better than you think
“When I first came here to race in 2010, I fell in love with the streets, I fell in love with the track – it was everything I hoped it would be,” he says.

“I’d seen it as a spectator and on TV obviously, but to be out there and drive that track that so many great drivers have raced on and to be a part of it – it’s almost a bit surreal in a way, and something that will never get old for me.”

2. I can sleep in my own bed
“It’s definitely unique for that – sleeping in your own bed is good at any time with the travel that we do, but to do that and still go to work and race in a Grand Prix – that’s pretty cool,” he says.

“You can imagine how much flying we do each year with the races, testing, visiting the factory and so on, so to be in your own bed for 10 straight days and not have to fly anywhere is a small thing, but something any of the drivers here will tell you is the best.

“Walking to a track is obviously pretty rare. I moved to Monaco to live in the second half of 2013, so the first race I did here as a resident was in 2014. I finished on the podium that year – it was one of my first podiums in F1 – and after all of the hype and the attention with the podium, two hours later I was at home on my couch with the TV on like it was the most standard Sunday in the world.”

3. You always want to do more laps
“It’s one of the few tracks you go to anywhere in the world that still leaves you wanting more on a Sunday afternoon,” Ricciardo says.

“You feel as though you’ve only just found the limit by the end of the race, and then it’s over when you wouldn’t mind doing just one more lap, and then another, and then another … And then we have to wait another year for the next time, and you have to start from almost zero again.

“Shaving tiny amounts of lap time off is a massive rush and it’s the most satisfying place of the year to get a lap absolutely right. The pressure of that one qualifying lap you have to nail on the Saturday – all of us drivers love it.”

4. There’s no margin for error
“It’s just so intimidating to drive an F1 car around here,” he says.

“The first lap that you do in Thursday practice each year, it’s probably a 1min 25secs lap – and you literally have to find 10 seconds of lap time in the next two days. Even saying that sounds kind of ridiculous, so it’s a concept that sounds absolutely impossible. But we have to do it, and that’s one of the things I love about this place. This place demands 100 per cent concentration every corner of every lap of the whole weekend, because you can absolutely ruin the whole thing if you’re not completely on it.”

5. It’s a good place for a celebration
“Monaco is a bit like Oz for me in that there’s a lot going on,” he says.

“Within reason I try to enjoy it – if I have mates in town for the race I try to catch up with them – but the easiest thing is to get them to come to my place to visit, perhaps the Thursday night because we’re not on track Friday, so we can have some dinner and I can see them all with no stress. Monaco is pretty hard to get around at the best of times, but it’s obviously way harder in the race week with the roads blocked and people everywhere.

“Sunday night is always one of the best nights of the year in a place that always likes to have a good time in the evening, and there’ll often be some beach parties on Monday that keep it going. So it’s a track where you’re keen to have a good result because of its history and the challenge of it, and then you can justify partying hard in a good place for it afterwards. That’s the plan for this week!”

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