Formula 1: Renault's Daniel Ricciardo expects sport's return to be chaotic after lengthy delay caused by COVID-19
Ricciardo, isolating in Perth since his home race in Melbourne was cancelled in March, has not driven his Renault since the last day of testing in Barcelona at the end of February
London: Daniel Ricciardo cannot wait for Formula One to get back to racing in a COVID-19 blighted season, and when it does he reckons the first grand prix could be a recipe for chaos.
The Australian, isolating in Perth since his home race in Melbourne was cancelled in March, has not driven his Renault since the last day of testing in Barcelona at the end of February.
Formula One plans to get going in Austria, pandemic permitting, with two races at the Red Bull Ring from the start of July.
Ricciardo told the BBC on Saturday he expected “some form of chaos, hopefully in a controlled manner” because all the drivers had been out of action, at least on the real racetrack rather than virtual, for so long.
“I am not really referencing cars everywhere. But there is going to be so much rust, a combination of emotion, excitement, eagerness,” the 30-year-old said.
“Everyone is going to be ready to go. You are going to get some guys who perform on that level of adrenalin and others who might not. So you’re going to get some bold overtakes, some miscalculated ones. You’re going to see a bit of everything.”
Ricciardo’s former boss Christian Horner, whose Red Bull team have won at home in Austria for the past two years with Dutch youngster Max Verstappen, agreed the return could shake things up.
“This is probably the longest time all the drivers have been out of a seat,” he told the Guardian newspaper.
“That could be healthy in a way. If we begin again in July, they will all be rusty as hell and there will be some incidents.”
Ricciardo, a seven-time race winner with Red Bull, is in the last year of his lucrative Renault contract with his future uncertain.
He has been spending his time on the family farm, a situation he has described as perfect for training with plenty of space and none of the stresses of travelling.
“The icing on the cake on that is we haven’t been jumping time zones, or locked in pressurised cabins three days a week up in the air, and the benefit is going to be really nice,” he said.
“Because it is so unique it was important to maximise this. And who knows? It might give me a bit more longevity in my career.”
Formula 1 2021: Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas sets fastest time in first practice, Lewis Hamilton in second
Bottas' best time of 1 minute, 34.427 seconds was .211 faster than Hamilton. Championship leader Max Verstappen of Red Bull was .016 further back in third.
Aston Martin, formerly known as Racing Point, currently sit seventh in the constructors' championship, with Vettel recording their best result — finishing second in Azerbaijan.
Verstappen's car, pushed onto the sausage kerb at the Turn One chicane, ended up with its back wheel rolling over the top of his rival's Mercedes, narrowly missing Hamilton's head.