Daniel Ricciardo has to admit to being jealous of the title fight between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in 2021. The entire season was filled with intense battle, coupled with a lot of drama and controversial moments. On top of that came a blood-curdling end in Abu Dhabi, with the title being captured in the very last round.
We don’t always see a season like 2021, Ricciardo also knows that. “This is actually what you hope for every year,” he told FPAL, among others. “You want a fight to go this way. You have a veteran with the most records, Lewis, and on the other side you have the youngest winner ever.”
“That’s a very cool fight and a very nice story. Of course they go neck and neck then and it’s a great fight. There’s a bit of jealousy coming up, because I can’t participate in it, but for the sport and as fan, it really is a dream scenario.”
Has the title fight distracted drivers?
In 2021, Ricciardo was almost never able to get involved in the fight for victory. He won once in Monza, but Red Bull and Mercedes were generally still too fast for McLaren’s cars. He watched the title fight from the ‘sidelines’, which could cause some distraction for him and the other F1 drivers. “I totally get that.”
The Australian cites the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as an example. “We were on the grid and before the start of the race they were showing images on all the big screens showing the highlights of Lewis and Max during the season. If I was in their position and try to focus on the race, you can still use the speakers. I don’t know, it’s extra distraction you don’t want before the start of a race.”
“It’s not my fight, so it didn’t really matter to me. But if you’re in that fight, you can’t run from it,” Ricciardo knows. He describes the distraction as ‘irritating’, but also knows that top-level drivers must be able to handle the pressure. “They have fully taken these moments into account.”