Italian GP: ‚You realise you are not invincible‘

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By Andrew Benson
Chief F1 author
Daniel Ricciardo went through which could be described as a dark night of the spirit last Saturday.
Following the death of Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert in the Belgian Grand Prix, the Renault driver went back to his hotel and questioned whether it was all worth it. The answer did not come readily, but the Australian raced on Sunday at Spa.
Four days , he sits down with BBC Sport at the beginning of the Italian Grand Prix weekend, and delve deep into what it requires for a racing driver to face his fears and race in such difficult circumstances.
„I certainly questioned it,“ that the 30-year-old Australian claims. „The reality is, I do love it too much. Racing did believe appropriate in the end. Despite the fact that I did not really wish to, after I did it, it was like, OK, this actually feels normal and right.“
For quite a very long time over last weekend it felt anything but normal.
„When you’re a kid and you see it on TV, and you’re not present or not part of it,“ Ricciardo says,“it seems like there’s some kind of space, or a disconnection to what has happened.
„But when you’re there and it happens to one of your coworkers, also it is in the exact identical race, it seems more real, and it’s like:’OK, that actually can happen to anybody, and it is here, it’s current today.‘
„The realisation people not being invincible does put in. I know my parents worry for me – you know, seeing me race and travel the entire world every couple of days, and being on a plane. You just question itis it truly worth putting not just myself but household below exactly the exact same quantity of pressure?“
At night of the crash, Ricciardo states, he“did not get much sleep, and so you are asking your questions, probably only fighting a tiny bit with some anger and a shame of’why,‘ you know?
„And also fighting with a few of the emotions of should I get up and race everywhere? Could it be the ideal thing to do ? Could it be the ideal thing to do for me?
„And I sort of did also think:’Let’s see how I feel by lunchtime, and if I am still having some doubts then maybe the most powerful thing for me would be not to race‘
„I kind of wanted to play it by ear. Running through all these situations:’What should I really feel like this? Imagine if this?‘
„By Sunday morning, I had a little more clarity. I wake up preparing myself and did manage to sleep a little bit. However, it felt cold and weird. It did not feel right to become eager to race to be more happy to know there. It felt tick off the moments, like and find the task finished.
„The lead-up to the race, so I’d probably just clarify it as not really fun in terms of just it had been tough to try and go through the motions and undergo a regular when that’s happened less than 24 hours past. Plus, you know, motorists‘ parade and that, you’re turning to fans, but you do not feel being happy or right grinning, I think.
„It was difficult, just trying to enter the zone, only attempting to come across any form of rhythm.
„Getting in the car on Sunday wasn’t simple, but it was more of a despair than a panic and I believe it was important I recognized that. If I had been getting in the car using a pure degree of fear, then it wouldn’t happen to be clever for me . I did understand that it was just a sadness.“
„After we kind of got going, it actually felt like pretty great release. It felt like a de-stress, just racing and competing. Just going at those speeds, it was that felt great and like flushing out the machine.
„After the racefor certain I was still glad that it was done but I’d feel better than I did two hours before that.
„I’ll be honest, the race has been fun. It was great to be out there. And as much as I had been excited about seeing the chequered flag, I did enjoy a pure race on Sunday.“
The race,“ he states, acted as a form of catharsis.
„When something happens, you have simply go to dip into it, and that is the ideal means of overcoming it. And I think that is exactly what the race was for us. I told myself things’Just go quickly as soon as possible. Leave the pits and go, and attempt to get into that mode already. Don’t tip-toe around. Don’t over-think certain places.‘
„I recall I got from those pitsdrifted out, and compelled me to put in that mindset straight away.“
This is a reference to his thoughts about moving through Raidillon, where Hubert needed his crash. It’s a component of the Eau Rouge swerves, also a left-hander over the brow of a hill taken flat out in more than 180mph.
„I told me ‚Go whole throttle, and simply don’t over-think this corner, so don’t over-think it.‘ From these pits… maintained it full. It felt great to get out there and do this although that really was a relief. And that told me I was ready to go.
„I think if I was, large lift and fearful, then that would be a sign that maybe I should not be on the track at this time. I suppose I needed to do that to test myself and then it felt right.“
Did he speak to the drivers about it?
„I got to talk to some few. Anthoine and I only met this past year. The Renault Academy boys spent a lot of time and that I saw them. I talked to a few of them as well text.
„They’d completed training camps together. They are a family. They are younger. That is where I believed I could attempt to be a little bit of, in some ways, a father figure to them and comfort them. They were, although I was feeling it. We essentially gave each other all a kiss on Sunday morning. We tried to chat over it a bit.
„And with the other drivers, I talked to a few of these, but before the race you might see everybody sort of wanted to be on their own.
„Waiting to the driver parade, we’re just standing there. There really are a few handshakes or hugs however, you could sort of tell everybody was just trying to get ready for the race and it was a tough one. Following the race, I spoke to mainly the French drivers, who I knew were closest to Anthoine.“
Hubert is not the first driver Ricciardo has understood who has been killed. The F1 driver to lose his entire own life was that the Frenchman Jules Bianchi, who suffered fatal head injuries in a crash. Ricciardo’d come up Bianchi through the ranks and they were friends.
„Jules‘ [departure ] struck me very difficult,“ Ricciardo says. „In a way, not disrespecting it, I was very amazed how difficult it’s hit me. I didn’t expect it to hit on me hard and for this to last as long – the damage and the despair from this extended over a period.
„With this weekend, you believe time type of remedies everything, and it was just like, OK, nothing’s happened for a little while and with good reason. The game’s got safer and we are at a location that was good. And then it happens. And it’s a jolt.
„It is an anger that it’s occurred again. We thought we had moved on from all this. It is when it’s refreshed in your mind again and it’s there in front of you, it is hard not to take it with difficulty.“
Has it changed his outlook on racing?
„Initially, it did alter. Time does cure it. Those emotions that are initial that are extreme did slowly fizzle out.
„Together with all the Jules one, I felt as if my goal and intent after that has been,’OK, if we are going to strap ourselves to these cars, and if we are all aware of the danger, it doesn’t make sense to move in half-heartedly. If we’re going to do it, go all in, and allow it to be rewarding.‘
„I felt just like Jules‘ passing form of made me embrace the racer even more so. And to be fair this will probably wind up having the identical effect.
„I didn’t have that type of fear in the race. And before that fear measures, I’ll only use it as a form of motivation. However a long time I do it, I could say that I did it correctly.“
It can be tough to comprehend how a racing driver can compartmentalise their fears in this way, or the uniqueness of the type of character required to do a job that they know can kill thembut to go ahead and do it anyway since they love it so much that they can not stop.
Can Ricciardo explain what exactly causes F1 drivers capable to live with that contradiction?
He pauses for a few seconds.
„Actually I get goosebumps,“ he states,“because I don’t really know how or why.
„On Saturday night, I felt in no spot to drive a race car on the identical track the following day. But getting out of the pits and moving through Raidillon and that, it was bizarre how normal and natural that it felt. And I can’t describe that.
„It is probably just when you’ve got a deep fascination and love to get something, that is the outcome. I surprised myself, to be honest. And we did Sunday.
„I didn’t expect to like any part of the race, so no matter where I finished. But I did enjoy being back out there, and that rush of racing. Yes, it was still in mind, naturally. But we’re able to put it into one side for a moment, I can not explain how or why. It does surprise me“
Ricciardo is famous for his gung-ho style, and his attacking successes, frequently made possible by on-the-edge overtaking moves in which he yells the car down the interior of a competition from an impossible distance back. How does the risks be rationalised by him, on knowing that an accident is always a chance carry?
„You have got to at all times control the controllables,“ he states. „In my situation, I suppose not get reckless.
„After the race at times you may find me give a driver the finger or show my sort of anger. However, I’ve tried to educate myself to not let the emotion take over the driver at the race and also become reckless, essentially.
„Yes, I’ve tried some late overtakes in my time and I have completed some motions that might appear risky, but there is always a level of calculation and control in that and it has never done only on emotion.
„So I’ll not let myself get irresponsible or place myself in a position I don’t need to be in. Yes, also be on this fine line and I’d like to take risks. But you ought to be sensible enough to not over-step it and also I believe I am able to do that.
„From this perspective, I am comfy hopping in the vehicle. There the thing of things and failures that could fail. That’s an uncontrollable out of my side. Can not really think about these. And even if you know they are current at times and there, when you get going and set the helmet on, you don’t think about it.
„It’s one of those things that if it occurs in the wrong place or the incorrect corner, then what do you do? You’ve got to put that motive in mind that it might have occurred on the way into the circuit, it might have happened on the road.“
It is for racing drivers to discuss the danger of passing so and danger publicly rare.
Safety is discussed every weekend at F1, but it on an abstract level – everything do people do about this trap, or this obstruction?
Hubert’s death has brought it front and centre. Is it difficult is it to discuss it?
„Obviously it’s difficult to address something that is real and has occurred,“ Ricciardo states,“however, it will help to talk about it. Having the comfort of everybody else last weekend and being around the grid and talking to a number of the other drivers… yeah, it’s not fun speaking about it, but it also will help relieve any feelings or emotions.
„I guess just knowing that you’re in the exact identical boat with somebody else, realizing that you’re not alone feeling how you do, that helps.
„Being a part of a team or a neighborhood. This was you realise, there are rivalries or whatever, but a competition on course does not express how much most of us have in common and how far we really do truly feel and care for one another.
„It’s hard but it does feel nice to find some of it off your chest.“
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