Rising Australian Formula One star Daniel Ricciardo has admitted that the hometown support he received in his maiden Australian Grand Prix last weekend was almost enough to bring him to tears.
The 22-year-old Ricciardo made his Albert Park debut in Sunday’s F1 season-opener, won by Englishman Jenson Button for McLaren.
Ricciardo qualified inside the top 10 for the first time in his career in his maiden race weekend for Scuderia Toro Rosso, and managed to claw back from a first-lap accident that dropped him to the back of the field to finish ninth after starting the 58th and final lap of Sunday’s race in 12th position.
Speaking to the Australian Grand Prix ‘Keeping Track’ podcast, Ricciardo said the support he received from the fans at Albert Park made for the most emotional moment of his fledgling career. More than 114,000 patrons attended the Australian Grand Prix on race day, with the estimated four-day crowd of 313,700 the largest attendance for the event since 2005.
“If I had something to do with that (crowd figure), then I’m happy,” Ricciardo said.
“The drivers’ parade was incredibly cool (and) it was pretty emotional. I’m not going to go out there and cry, but in a different circumstance I could have easily teared up. It was a huge buzz to have that feeling of racing at my home Grand Prix for the first time, (and) it was a pretty perfect weekend.”
The young West Australian earned two world championship points after his superb final lap, matching the two-point haul of compatriot Mark Webber on his Albert Park debut 10 years ago. Webber earned his maiden F1 points with Minardi, which was sold by Australian aviation entrepreneur Paul Stoddart to Red Bull and re-named as Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2006.
In an expansive interview with ‘Keeping Track’, Ricciardo also revealed how he made it into the points on the frantic final lap and detailed his preparation for next weekend’s race in Malaysia.
‘Keeping Track’ is the official podcast of the Australian Grand Prix. Hosted by renowned motorsport journalists Stuart Sykes and Matt Clayton, the podcast returns for a second year in 2012, and will feature interviews with a host of key Formula One and MotoGP names at regular intervals throughout the season.