Ricciardo gearing up for another podium finish

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo (left) driving a 1979 Nissan Skyline with team-mate Max Verstappen in the passenger's seat. The Australian will be back in the RB12 at Suzuka for Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix.
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo (left) driving a 1979 Nissan Skyline with team-mate Max Verstappen in the passenger's seat. The Australian will be back in the RB12 at Suzuka for Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO • Still buzzing from his Malaysia win, Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo has promised to "kick a**" in Japan this weekend - and that could be bad news for Nico Rosberg.

Ricciardo toasted his first Formula One victory in two years by removing his sweaty sneaker and drinking champagne from it, before offering it to Rosberg in a disturbing twist to his trademark celebration.

The German, who finished third behind Ricciardo and Max Verstappen in the other Red Bull on Sunday, bravely supped bubbly from Ricciardo's shoe.

But the Australian revealed that his Mercedes rival had not been overjoyed.

"It was probably the worst race to win because there was so much sweat in the shoe," a grinning Ricciardo told reporters yesterday. "But I was so happy I didn't really care. It was probably more Rosberg - he wasn't very happy with the taste, but it was fun.

"In the press conference he tapped me and pulled a face and goes, 'Don't make me do that again, it was disgusting!' I said, 'You'll have to stop me from winning next time!' Hopefully we can kick some a** this weekend."

Rosberg's distress will have been softened by the fact that he now holds a 23-point lead over Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton with five races left this season after the Briton suffered a cruel engine failure in Sepang.

Ricciardo is a distant third in the championship standings but insisted Red Bull could still pose a threat to the rampant Mercedes pair, particularly with rain expected during Sunday's race at Suzuka.

"We definitely have a good chance here," he said. "In 2014, we were quick in that wet race and our car is as competitive now as it was then, maybe even more competitive.

"In Malaysia, we got a little lucky obviously with Hamilton having his problems, but Suzuka should be a little bit better for us.

"I would probably put money on Mercedes being quicker, at least in qualifying, but I don't think the gap will be as big as it was in Malaysia.

"If it rains, I believe we can win the race. If it's dry, Mercedes would be the favourites."

Ricciardo admitted that the Japanese Grand Prix weighed heavily on drivers after Frenchman Jules Bianchi died as a result of injuries he suffered in that 2014 race.

"We're pretty strong to block those things out when we put the helmet on," he said. "But it is a little bit emotional coming back to Suzuka since then."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2016, with the headline 'Ricciardo gearing up for another podium finish'. Print Edition | Subscribe