PRESS RELEASE/Australian Grand Prix Corporation – Photo: supplied
Forget painting the town red; Australian Formula 1® star Daniel Ricciardo hopes Albert Park becomes a sea of Renault yellow next month for the season-opening Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019 in Melbourne, as he gets accustomed to life at his new team for the next two seasons.
Ricciardo, 29, launched Renault’s RS 19 machine this week with new teammate Nico Hulkenberg at Renault F1® Team’s factory at Enstone in England, and his first Formula 1® race outside of the Red Bull stable will take place on home soil on March 17, his 100-race stint with Red Bull Racing wrapping up in the final Grand Prix of last season in Abu Dhabi.
Ricciardo, who admits he’s quickly getting used to his new colours and team after spending the best part of a week at Renault’s UK headquarters before Tuesday’s launch, is hoping Albert Park looks very different to the past decade when the lights go out on the 21-race season in a little over a month’s time.
“There’s significance with my colours this year and the green and gold for Australia’s sporting colours – if we see a lot of yellow around Albert Park, that’ll be pretty cool,” he says.
“To picture (Albert Park) being covered in gold, or yellow, that would make me pretty proud and pretty pumped.
“It’s a privilege having a home Grand Prix … not everyone does. Opening the season at home, it’s awesome, but it’s also chaos. It’s such a busy week that I love it, but I also feel a real relief once Sunday arrives.
“Being the only Aussie on the grid and knowing any Australian flag I see in the crowd is for me … that makes me proud. A lot of people say that adds a lot of pressure, but for me, it’s awesome that I’ve got this support and it gives me some extra fight.”
Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO, Andrew Westacott, said that he is excited to see the Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit decked out with yellow and black in support of home-town hero Daniel Ricciardo.
“Melbourne is a big race for Daniel, not only being the opening race of the season, but it’s also his home race. He’s a fantastic ambassador for Australia and we can’t wait to welcome him back to the Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit with open arms,” said Westacott.
“The eyes of the world will be on Melbourne in March when the Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019 comes to town and we are proud to once again create value for Victoria with this award-winning four-day spectacle,” continued Westacott.
Ricciardo will begin life at the Renault F1® Team next week in the first four-day pre-season test at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, and will form an intriguing partnership with Hulkenberg, the German who has also driven for Williams, Force India and Sauber in a Formula 1® career that dates back to the 2010 season. Hulkenberg holds the Formula 1® record for the most race starts without a podium finish; in 156 Grands Prix, the 31-year-old’s best results are three fourth-place finishes.
Ricciardo, who comes to the Renault F1® Team with seven career wins and 29 podiums from 150 starts, says Hulkenberg shouldn’t be underestimated as the pair look to raise Renault from last year’s fourth-place finish in the constructors’ standings.
“I’ve known Nico for quite a while, we live pretty close to each other in Monaco,” Ricciardo says.
“We may have swung a tennis racquet a couple of times, played a bit. I may have beaten him in a tie-breaker …
“Anyone in the sport who has followed motor racing for a long time knows he’s a big talent. The people who just watch on the weekends will see that he’s not got a podium in Formula 1® and be like ‘he’s probably alright, but just alright’. But the ones who know know that he’s very talented. He won almost everything growing up as a junior driver, and I’m absolutely expecting a tough, competitive teammate. I’m also expecting to have a real good, healthy rivalry. Our experience is quite a lot, we’ve been in Formula 1® now quite a few years.
“Where Renault is at the moment and that rate of development and progress they’re going through, we’re a really good fit to take that on.”
For tickets and more information on the Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019, please visit www.grandprix.com.au
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