Daniel Ricciardo, thanks to the damages reported in Spa after his first lap accident, will start from the back of the grid in Italy. His RB14 will benefit a new engine, to avoid a penalty before Singapore. He will be the first of the Renault family to try the new French “Spec C” engine. Surely the expectations are high from Renault, which is also scared about some kind of criticism from Red Bull, but Daniel feels confident about his weekend.
“I hope the new engine is good. We’ll try on Friday and then we’ll take a decision. I don’t expect too much from it, I think it’s natural to expect something, but whatever it’s 1 tenth, 2 tenths we’ll see. I do expect and improvement, but I can’t tell you how much.”
The choice to use a new engine came from both him and the team, so they can be ready for Singapore.
“The choice to use a new engine was from the team, but I agreed with them. I would love to start from the front here in Monza, cause in the end on Sunday we always have a pretty good car. It would be nice, but looking at Singapore, we couldn’t risk any penalty.”
This does not mean that this will be his last engine for the season, as he’s sure they will “get another one at some point.”
The aussie driver is not stranger to climbing races like this one; last year he started 16th and, with a brilliant Pit Stop strategy, manged to finish 4th, just few tenths from the podium.
“I don’t know if I’ll start 19th or 20th, Hulkenberg has penalties too. I still want a podium here, the podium looks so good in Monza. I’m hoping for some crazy race to get on the podium. I mean, I did the Eau Rouge without the rear wing in lap 1 in Spa.” He laughs. “I didn’t know the rear wing was done until the Safety Car. I went through the Eau Rouge and had no idea. I hit Kimi and I didn’t realize the rear was damaged. I felt the race was done, they did a really good job to get me out again, but I was two laps down and there was too much floor damage. They did what they could, I appreciate that.”
Something that Daniel has always appreciated is the Halo: now again an hot topic in the Paddock, the protection device has shown in Spa how much important it is, being fundamental in the crash between Fernando Alonso and Charles Leclerc.
“I feel I was always for the head protection, I don’t think none of us like the look of it, but I was always definitely one to say… especially after Wilson crash, I think it’s pretty clear. When you see what happened, Hartley’s on board was the most telling one, you can see Alonso coming from the side (it felt like he was coming over the top), I mean it was gonna be very close to the head. I think it did what it had to do. It’s nice for people who didn’t support the Halo, at least now we’ve got proof that it likely saves from serious injuries.”
Daniel is about to dispute his last GPs dressed as a Red Bull driver; some have criticized his decision, but he feels happy about it and the way that people in the Paddock reacted.
“Everyone seems respectful. I love people in Formula 1, we move sometimes and I loved the respect I received.
“I’m aware that the structure in Red Bull is stronger, but the switch is a long term project. I felt good once I signed, I know what I’m getting into.”
The Italian Grand Prix is a bit of a home race for Daniel, has he has Italian roots in his blood. The love he receives from the “tifosi” every year is incredible and, despite his two year contract with Renault, they still want him to be in Ferrari.
“The Italians are nuts, in all the right ways. Even now outside, or for the next two years, they’ll be like ‘Hey, vieni in Ferrari!’ (Hey, come to Ferrari). It’s gonna happen.” Laughs. “I feel like the fans want my Italian blood in the Italian car. They’re nice. I came here yesterday so I could have pizza, there’s some Italian in me.”
Ferrari may be far, but he still has some thoughts on the championship fight, different from what Lewis Hamilton expressed after the Belgian GP.
“It’s hard to say (if there’s a trick on both Ferraris), they’ve done a lot this year to improve. I don’t want to be sceptical. They have a really strong pace this year. Maybe this year’s their chance to win here, only ‘cause I start from the back.
“We haven’t been the quickest in the straight for so many years, but for Lewis and his team it’s probably frustrating.”