By John O’Brien
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo missed out on victory in Monaco this season when a botched pit stop handed Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton the win but the Australian is hoping the streets of Singapore will be paved the gold he was denied in Monte Carlo.
The Marina Bay Street Circuit’s 23-turn layout presents drivers with similar challenges to Formula One’s most famous track with its high downforce and slow pace giving Red Bull and Ferrari an opportunity to compete on level terms with Mercedes.
“It’s obviously the next closest track to Monaco, so we look at it as a chance to try and get the victory I am after this season,” Ricciardo, who finished second from pole in Monte Carlo, told reporters on Thursday.
“Since Monaco, a lot of things have been working better with the team…I have left races feeling a lot happier,” he added.
Ricciardo came second behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in Singapore a year ago as Mercedes struggled and after securing three podiums in the last four races, the Australian has been installed as one of the favorites for Sunday’s grand prix.
“Let’s see,” he said. “I am not going to put too much pressure on myself or the team for this weekend but deep down we want to win.
“I believe we are a group of winners, so if there is a bit of pressure on us to try and get it done this weekend then I think we will thrive off that.”
Ricciardo also shed some light on his quirky celebration of drinking champagne from his shoe following his recent podium finishes, drawing inspiration from a group of Australian “fishermen and surfers” who introduced him to the ‘shoey’.
“I think it’s just a bit of fun now, everyone’s enjoying it,” the 27-year-old added with a grin.
“If the sparkling wine is cold, then it tastes good. Normally on the podium, it’s cold so you don’t get all the flavors but if it’s warm, then you get the sweat and all that through it… but the cold taste kills the bad stuff.
“So if I win then yeah, I will do it again but probably not for a second or third now.”
Ricciardo is third in the drivers’ standings on 161 points after 14 rounds, behind the Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton (250 points) and Nico Rosberg (248) with seven races remaining.
(Editing by Clare Lovell)