By Alan Baldwin
SILVERSTONE, England (Reuters) - Daniel Ricciardo fears that the "shoey", a podium ritual dreaded by rival drivers and loved by Formula One fans as well as anyone else not in drinking distance, may be getting out of control.
The smiling Australian's signature celebration involves the pouring of podium champagne into a sweaty racing boot, which an unlucky victim is then urged to share in front of a global audience.
With the Red Bull driver having notched up five podiums in a row, including a surprise victory in Azerbaijan at the end of June, the world has been watching plenty of shoeys this season.
At the last two races, Azerbaijan and Austria, they were instigated more by podium interviewers - former racers David Coulthard and Martin Brundle - than the happy driver.
"I honestly didn’t plan on doing it. Even in Baku I was, like, 'ah, I won't do it'," Ricciardo told reporters on Thursday when asked about his plans for Sunday's British Grand Prix.
"DC (Coulthard) took my shoes off and then in Austria Martin was frothing for it. I feel like there's some real sick bastards around here. I never thought it would continue like this."
Ricciardo said fans were even shouting "shoey" during an "F1 Live" promotional event in central London on Wednesday.
"I'm just walking along, minding my business and they're like 'do a shoey'...I don't actually just take my shoe off while I’m walking in the street and drink out of it. I feel like I dug a hole for myself with this one," he grinned.
"On that note, I feel like it's been fun. I want to say it's run its course; we'll see what happens."
In Austria, while television commentator Brundle drank deeply from the shoe, Mercedes' race winner Valtteri Bottas made himself scarce.
Ricciardo was unimpressed, even if he conceded that the shoey could be risky when races were back-to-back because the top three could all pick up something that put them in hospital for a week.
"I heard the Finns drink. I really heard that. But Valtteri did not carry his flag well last Sunday," he said. "Shame on him. Wow. Valtteri Bottas. Disappointed. That's it. No more shoeys."
Triple world champion Lewis Hamilton, Bottas's teammate and Sunday's race favorite, was with the Finn. "I still stand firm on the toe jam stuff," he said. "The juice from the foot is not something I wish to drink. Especially someone else's."
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; editing by Mark Heinrich)