Daniel Ricciardo suffered a cruel blow in the dying stages of the Italian Grand Prix, but that didn’t deflate his spirits.
Ricciardo had his best race of the season after starting from fourth on the grid, but it came to a halt with six laps to go due to an oil leak.
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The always smiling West Australian delighted fans trackside immediately after he was forced out of the race before dishing out fist bumps on his way back to the paddock.
But it was hijacking an interview with Formula 2 champion Felipe Drugovich that provided the best highlights after the disappointment.
Standing alongside Drugovich, Ricciardo kicked started the interview by proclaiming he wished the race had of stopped after one lap.
“If it ended on lap one I would have had a podium so that would have been cool,” Ricciardo said.
Ricciardo and teammate Lando Norris have struggled to maintain touch with the front of the grid all season long and despite a better showing, Ricciardo was hesitant to say things had turned around.
“It was a better weekend but I still feel like it’s a struggle. I feel like I can just do enough with the car but I feel like I’m still … I don’t know. I think with how the year has been going it was a respectable weekend.”
But after moving past the car and his own race, Ricciardo hijacked the show and began lobbing questions at Drugovich.
“Have you celebrated yet? Couple of caipirinha’s?” Ricciardo asked before complementing Drugovich on his Post Malone sunglasses.
It was when Ricciardo asked Drugovish what his plans are however when the interview shifted with the Brazilian pointing the finger back at the Aussie.
Host Will Buxton then reiterates “this is what I told you the other day, if you take the Mercedes reserve driver role … you’re going to be hosting the post race show next year.”
Ricciardo was quick to then shut down the role with Mercedes after hearing those where the terms.
“Oh I’m definitely not doing it then,” he said.
Ricciardo looks likely to miss out on a starting seat for the 2023 season with Alpine now said to be favouring rising Aussie Jack Doohan.
After news broke his time at McLaren was being cut short, Haas emerged as a surprise landing spot after team chief Guenther Steiner reached out.
He has since been linked to Mercedes in a reserve driver role, but it’s one a former driver says he shouldn’t be taking. Instead hoping Ricciardo takes on the Haas role.
“I’d like to see Daniel have another go at racing,” Karun Chandhok told Express Sport.
“The last 18 months, for whatever reason, we didn’t see the real Daniel, I don’t know [why] and I don’t think he knows and I don’t think McLaren know, that’s a shame for all.
“They all went into it with the right intentions but for whatever reason it just hasn’t clicked for him at McLaren.”
Ricciardo showed after his Italian Grand Prix exit that he remains a fan favourite as he delighted those in the stands by hoping on a marshalls scooter and dishing out fist bumps on his way back to the garage.