Ricciardo ‘a big bundle of excitement’ ahead of Australian GP

Daniel Ricciardo in Melbourne during the 2019 Australian Grand Prix

Daniel Ricciardo is “a big bundle of excitement” ahead of next weekend’s Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix.

It is set to be the first time Formula 1 machinery has been on track in Albert Park since 2019 after the 2020 event was cancelled prior to opening practice.

Australia missed out on a berth on last year’s calendar, the event initially having been postponed from March to November before being called off in place of Qatar as international travel restrictions remained in place.

This year’s event is eagerly anticipated, with both Saturday and Sunday set to boast sell-out crowds.

Indeed, such has been the demand that officials have capped attendance below the venue’s maximum capacity to ensure the crowd can be service amid a labour shortage in Victoria.

Nonetheless, Australian GP boss Andrew Westacott expects the four-day attendance to come close to all-time record levels.

“I’m excited to go home, definitely,” said Daniel Ricciardo when asked about the Australian Grand Prix by Speedcafe.com.

“It’s been a while and I’ve heard sales have been nuts, and I know it’s going to be an awesome atmosphere. I cannot wait.”

Fans’ anticipation is matched by that in the F1 circus, with the Albert Park race a favourite among the paddock.

That includes world champion Max Verstappen, who was an interested observer as Ricciardo was extolling the virtues of the Australian round.

“Max is Cheering, he’s exciting to go as well,” Ricciardo laughed.

“I know it’s personal to me because I’m Aussie and it’s a home one and that’s a privilege, but every driver I speak to about Melbourne, they love it.

“They love it as an event, and it’s exciting to go through the track changes as well this year, see what kind of racing that produces. So, just a big bundle of excitement.”

Extensive work has been undertaken on the Albert Park venue, with three phases of works completed since March 2020.

The first of those was the widening of pit lane by two metres, which officials hope will see the FIA raise the pit lane speed limit from 60km/h to 80km/h.

On track, a number of corners have been reprofiled or, in the instance of the chicane on Lakeside Drive, removed entirely.

Those geometry changes are set to see lap times drop by as much as five seconds a lap, even allowing for the new generation of car in 2022.

The final phase of work was a complete resurfacing of the racing surface, the first time that has been done since the world championship first visited Albert Park in 1996.

Teams are expected to begin rolling into Melbourne from next Tuesday with support categories on track in Melbourne on Thursday.

Formula 1 will then take to the circuit for the opening practice session of the weekend at 13:00 AEST.

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