Daniel Ricciardo has a fabulous Monaco record in junior series – and he’s keen to extend that into Formula One.
"The annoying thing about Monte Carlo is that it makes it impossible to do that calm, detached racing driver thing – this place is just too amazing for that and I don’t mind admitting that I’m very, very excited to be here. I’ve been at the Monaco Grand Prix for the last two years driving in the World Series by Renault, I’ve loved racing here and the atmosphere is one of the best. It’s a special weekend. The vibe is very, very cool.
And not just the driving – there’s always something going on. For instance Friday night we have the Amber Lounge fashion show – I’ll be dressed up and looking very good on the catwalk. It isn’t exactly unwinding, I’ll stay pretty tightly sprung until Sunday night, because this weekend’s racing is intense.
'I’ll be dressed up and looking very good on the catwalk'
Driving a Formula One car anywhere is special – the speed, the power and the acceleration just blows you away – but here it’s like trying to do a lap in a supermarket, and that’s just so, so cool. I know there’s that quote about racing at Monaco being like riding a bicycle around your lving room – well when I was a kid I used to love riding my little bike around inside the house. It was more fun, there were more obstacles and a bit more danger.
That really is what this is like: you have the walls around the circuit and the bumps on the track that make it a bit more real. The circuit has a lot of character; you can feel that in the car. You can’t afford mistakes, your concentration levels rocket and you tend to amaze yourself with how quickly you manage to do everything. Just completing a lap feels like an achievement. It feels like a challenge.
'Even if you don’t have the fastest car, or the best setup, you can still have a great race'
I first got to drive an F1 car around here last year when I did FP1 for Toro Rosso. That was a crazy morning because I did World Series by Renault first and that finished at 0930, and then I changed the overalls and jumped back into the STR6 for 1000. I was running so high on adrenaline at that point I don’t think I noticed that they’re pretty different cars to drive.
From the driver’s point of view – and maybe teams see it differently – the best thing about coming to Monaco is that it’s a circuit where the driver has more influence on events. Even if you don’t have the fastest car, or the best setup, you can still have a great race. Personally, I’m not counting out finishing on the podium. I believe a driver can make a difference around here; I believe in myself and think I can get the Toro Rosso further up the grid than before and have an awesome weekend.
The tough part is that I’m surrounded by other guys who think like that too.