Daniel Ricciardo is hoping Melbourne delivers a few days of its famously fickle weather this weekend to help him shine in Sunday’s 2016 Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix.
The beaming Australian made his first scheduled public appearance in the city under open blue skies on Wednesday morning when he backed the Wings for Life World Run at an event on Seafarer’s Bridge in the Docklands.
He is a keen runner and was a participant in last year’s ‘World Run’ when he ran 12.56 kms on his own in Monte Carlo with a virtual Catcher Car in pursuit.
“I really enjoyed being involved,” he said. “And it is great to take part and help to find a cure for spinal cord injury.”
This weekend, however, he is back to another harsh reality when he starts the F1 season with Red Bull Racing.
And there will be nothing virtual about it when the West Australian tries to beat his real rivals – led by champions Mercedes -- when the action explodes at Albert Park.
“They will be hard to beat this weekend for sure,” he said. “But the good thing about Melbourne is that you never know with the weather ... Yes, a bit of rain could stir things up nicely!”
Rain has been forecast for Friday and Saturday, but it is unlikely to be heavy enough to cause any real surprises – and Ricciardo knows what to expect.
“Ideally, we would like to get back to winning, but first we have to take a few podiums,” he said. “And if I could choose where to be on any podium at all, it would be here in Melbourne.”
Race victories and a tilt for the title will have to wait, he said.
“I think it is a bit unrealistic this year,” he said. “The fact is, I think, that Mercedes look like, in normal circumstances, that they will probably win most of races…. Unless we get that rain or something else comes our way.
“The second half of the year, I think we should be able to get a lot closer. Last year, we made a big step and I think where we are now is where we ended last time.
“If we make another step in the European summer we can hopefully take some of the limelight away from Mercedes…
“I think the podiums last year, in Singapore and Budapest -- if anyone forgot -- reminded them that I’m still here to race, to race hard and to race at the front.”