Driver quote: Daniel Ricciardo, US GP
So Daniel, what turns you into the head cheerleader for the United States Grand Prix? What do you like about Austin?
Everything! I love Austin. Great track, great city, great food, great fans, great people in general, great hotel. Basically... great.
Slow down there Skippy. Start with the track: what do you particularly enjoy about the Circuit of the Americas?
For a modern-day circuit with lots of runoff, theyíve done the best job possible. Theyíve created a track thatís safe but managed to ensure itís still fun. Itís probably the best overtaking circuit on the calendar.
And after a hard day of overtaking, whatís on the agenda in the city?
Well, I love live music and I love bars and I particularly love live music in bars Ė and as thatís what Austinís all about, itís the sort of culture I can really appreciate. Iíll also enjoy some beef. Definitely the city to visit if you like ribs or brisket. Amazing stuff.
But you stay out in the countryside. Where the snakes are...
Thatís right. We stay out in a hotel on a ranch Ė which is pretty awesome. Thereís a river, a golf course, and yes, the occasional snake. The snakes are OK though.
Theyíre pretty cool. Theyíre not like Aussie snakes.
Theyíre more scared of you than you are of them Ė particularly if youíve got your beard on. Are you planning whiskers again this year?
Iíll probably do something Ė but no promises. Donít want to put pressure on myself.
OK Daniel on to Mexcio, by virtue of a show car run a couple of months ago, youíre one of the few drivers able to tell us what the new Autůdromo Hermanos RodrŪguez is like. Go ahead...
Well, Iíve only driven around the parts of the track that were finished in July, so Iím not the authority on it! The very long main straight reminded me a little of Monza. And there are some flowing parts of the track which look quite interesting... but you can never tell until you drive a new circuit properly. It could go either way. I hope itís fun!
And how about Mexico City. Did you get to sample some of that?
I did, and it was very cool. I love the food Ė I say that a lot donít I? Ė and I love the passion of the people. It was quite a moment when we saw how many had turned up to watch us back in the summer, it really makes you do a double-take. Iím looking forward to spending more time there just so I can experience a bit more of the culture.
And finally, the big question thatís dividing the paddock: back to Europe after Mexico or staying out to muck around in the Americas?
Stay out. Iím keeping my options open though. Thinking about maybe Miami because Iíve never been Ė and then thereís the Texas 500 the following weekend. Might go up to Fort Worth to watch me some NASCAR!
COTA is of course the circuit at which you made your grand prix weekend debut in 2013 for Toro Rosso. Is it a place of good memories for you?
Definitely. As you say, I made my F1 debut there and that was a big moment in my career. The race last year was I would say unlucky in that we had really good pace but I had to pit for a vibration with the tyre after overtaking Kimi, but yes, I have very positive memories of the circuit.
The circuit is a bit of an F1 ĎBest Ofí, with sections influenced by classic sequences from a number of tracks. That could lead to either beauty or beast, which is it?
The first one. I really like racing at COTA; the track is really good. It has a lot of high-speed corners, heavy braking, long straights, a bit of everything really, so itís great for racing, very enjoyable. Sector One is exciting. There are a lot of high-speed changes of direction. Itís kind of like Maggots-Becketts at Silverstone and it feels great through there in an F1 car. The circuit also has a lot of changes of elevation, which is something I think every driver appreciates. Itís a good track.
What about the city? Is it a similarly entertaining experience?
Yes, I like it there. Itís a really good atmosphere. Great food. America does feel different to race in. Itís got its own style, which I like.
Your team-mate seems to really get into the wild west vibe. Is it the same for you?
Maybe not quite as enthusiastically as Daniel Ė that would be hard! But I like it, yeah, itís Texas, itís cowboy country and itís good fun.
Mexico City is unknown territory for everyone in F1. Is the prospect of racing in a new venue something you enjoy?
Definitely. Itís always nice to visit a new place and to race at a new track. Mexico should be no different. The city looks nice Ė interesting culture and the food should be very good too.
What are you expecting from the circuit?
Itís hard to say. On paper it looks interesting. It looks like there are some good high-speed corners and the Esses section looks like it might be quite exciting. It obviously has a lot of history and they seem to have kept the old-school feel of it, which is good.
Judging by the show car run the team did in June in Mexico City it looks like the atmosphere will be tremendous. Looking forward to some Latin mayhem?
I think Mexico has a pretty big heritage with Formula One and it seems like itís one of those places that is really passionate about the sport, maybe a bit like Brazil. It should be a good weekend.