Funday Sunday - Blackbourn 404

By: Rob Blackbourn, Photography by: Shutterstock

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Although I’m no longer a serious Formula 1 fan these days, I still keep an eye on it. And I see enough to know that I couldn’t be happier for young Daniel Ricciardo’s success with Red Bull.

He’s front of my mind at the moment because of his performance at the post-race press conference at the recent British F1 GP at Silverstone.

The young bloke fronting up to the cameras had arrived only days earlier on a roll, the ‘best of the rest’ in results to the dominant Mercedes and Ferrari teams, shooting realistically for his sixth consecutive podium. And ready to seize the chance to grab third place in the championship points tally. Then it all turned to mud for Ricciardo in qualifying. First an issue forcing a gearbox swap bumped him back a compulsory five places on the grid. Then a turbo issue held him back. Instead of winning a grid spot within reach of the front runners, Ricciardo had to settle for being ‘Tail-end Charlie’.

So what did he do? Although the Formula 1 gods weren’t smiling on him at Silverstone, Ricciardo kept smiling, drove like a demon, a brave, gifted demon, and finished a creditable fifth.

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Then we got his take on his blighted qualifying experience and a race result that fell short of his hopes and plans for the weekend.

"I just felt like the whole race I was overtaking cars," said a smiling Ricciardo. "And I hope the fans enjoyed it. It was great fun coming back through the field and I gave it everything. It’s been strong and to get fifth from the back today, I really couldn’t ask for more."

Finally he said: "I would give this race 10 out of 10 in terms of fun."

What he expressed in those few words pretty much sums up everything I admire about young Daniel Ricciardo.

In essence he told the world how much fun he’d had that day enjoying his sport despite the setbacks, giving it his best, and bless him, he acknowledged the people whose support makes the whole thing possible – the punters. He hoped they’d had a good time as well.

Bonus brownie points also for Ricciardo’s explanation of his failed pass attempt on Romain Grosjean on lap 5: "I was probably a bit optimistic on the outside of Grosjean and he didn’t give me much room," said Ricciardo. "I probably shouldn’t have been there. It wasn’t the smartest place to put the car and I went off track and it probably damaged a bit of the floor. I fell back to pretty much last again but came back through."

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There was no real criticism of his opponent. No attempt to blame the equipment or tyres, or to criticise the officials. No excuse at all actually. It was a mea culpa, with a touch of humility to it. Mea culpas, humility – these qualities are quite thin on the ground these days, particularly among those who circulate in the rarified atmosphere of the A-lister, including the Formula 1 tribe.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying Ricciardo is Mr Perfect Pants, a man who never bitches or gets grumpy. It’s just that he comes across pretty consistently as a good natured bloke, who has made the most of his opportunities, and whose considerable talent hasn’t gone to his head.

While I loved your work behind the wheel at Silverstone, Daniel, my 10 out of 10 rating is for your press-conference performance. And if you’ve got some time on your hands after the final round in November, perhaps Tennis Australia could talk to you about providing some attitude coaching for a couple of its leading lights.



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