Ricciardo to block out Las Vegas distractions in crucial chase

Daniel Ricciardo will tune out this weekend from all that Las Vegas has to offer

Daniel Ricciardo will tune out this weekend from all that Las Vegas has to offer. Image: Charles Coates/XPB

Daniel Ricciardo has vowed to block out the “extracurricular” nature of Las Vegas and adopt “a very simple approach” to the inaugural race weekend in Sin City.

Ricciardo has conceded to visiting Las Vegas “many times”, primarily “for leisure” during summer breaks with his Australian friends, describing it as “a fun place”.

The AlphaTauri driver, however, recognises that for the next few days, he cannot afford to have his head turned and that he will need to adopt “a slightly different mindset”.

That is in part due to the fact AlphaTauri has hauled itself off the foot of the constructors’ standings over the last three races, scoring 16 points to move within seven of seventh-placed Williams.

“There’s going to be a lot going on apart from the track action, so I aim to stay in the zone and block out the distractions,” said Ricciardo.

“It’s the balance of obviously trying to promote the weekend, promote the race, and also enjoy some of the extracurricular things.

“The bottom line is I’m there to race, and that’s the thing I need to prioritise and focus on, especially now we’ve closed the gap to Williams. Getting points is so crucial and critical.

“I would say it’s a very simple approach. Rest when I can rest, and then when I need to be on it, I’ll just focus and put my energy into that. If there’s a little bit of downtime, I’ll try not to keep my mind too occupied.”

With the three days of track action to take place under the neon lights, with qualifying starting at midnight local time and the race at 10pm, Ricciardo is anticipating “a movie set” feel to the racing.

Like every other driver, the 34-year-old has at least attempted to learn the 6.2-kilometre, 17-turn track on the simulator, but goes into the event on a level playing field with his rivals as it is a case of them all heading into the unknown.

That is underlined by the fact that no team has an understanding of how its car will perform in the low, late-night temperatures of around 10 degrees Celsius, or how Pirelli’s tyres will react under the circumstances, and around a circuit where many areas have been relaid.

After a day on the simulator after the last race in Brazil, Ricciardo said: “From what I’ve learned on the sim, it’s a really challenging track because there’s a lot of long straights and then these short 90-degree corners with a lot of turning and braking.

“The layout’s definitely interesting, and I hope it provides good racing. I think the long straights definitely give it some opportunities, and because it’s also tight and twisty in some places, it’ll present quite a unique set of challenges.

“We know it’s going to be cold. I think getting the tyres working and the car to produce enough grip with downforce will be a big key to getting some lap time out of it.

“It could feel like Baku (Azerbaijan GP) the first year when it was low-grip, which was interesting, as you had to push really hard on the out-lap to get the tyres going.”

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