AUSTIN, Texas — Daniel Ricciardo is unsure whether he would ever feel fully comfortable racing on one of IndyCar’s oval race circuits.
Earlier this year Canadian driver Robert Wickens was left with multiple leg and arm fractures as well as rib, elbow and spinal chord injuries during a scary crash at Pocono. The topic of Formula One drivers attempting oval racing has been a popular one since Fernando Alonso’s attempt to win the most famous oval race of all, the Indy 500, in 2017.
During Thursday’s press conference ahead of this weekend’s U.S. Grand Prix, Ricciardo was asked if he would ever consider attempting the event himself.
“Yes and no,” he said. “The thought of it sounds good.
“Ovals creep me out a little bit. I won’t lie. It would be cool. I don’t know. I would at least like to have a go, like maybe just a test. Let’s see how things go but yeah, it was cool watching Fernando do it, don’t get me wrong and part of me was like trying to picture myself being there and doing it but yeah, maybe one day.
“At the moment I don’t say it’s something I’m looking to do in the near future. I don’t know. Probably the older I get, the more scared I’ll become, so if it doesn’t happen now maybe it won’t ever happen. I don’t know.”
Romain Grosjean, sitting on the end of the row, then said: “I’ll join Daniel. It sounds cool, looks cool, it’s a great race. Ovals, yeah…”
Ricciardo then joked: “Who thought turning left could be so hard?”
Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, who could seal this year’s title in Austin, hinted that he had similar reservations — although he also stressed that F1 remains his only priority.
“I kind of feel in a similar way. I would definitely like to try it as I’ve never really driven an oval before and the cars are incredibly fast and [I] always want to go faster.
“I probably will get a chance to have a go. I’m sure if I wanted to have a go I could but it’s never been a series — naturally, growing up in Europe, it’s never been a series that you grew up aspiring to be in, it was always Formula One being it was the highest technology and has always been — at least growing up — the thought was that it was the highest grade of drivers that you wanted to compete against but they’ve got some great drivers there as well.
“I think I would prefer to try NASCAR. Watkins Glen, I’ve always wanted to have a go up there, beer cans in the side. I have driven a NASCAR years ago at Watkins Glen which was awesome so that’s something I could do potentially. I honestly have no desire to do any other racing beyond Formula One if I’m really honest but maybe that will change when you do stop, because you do it your whole life and temptation is always going to be there, I’m always going to be a racing driver at heart.”
Alonso was the fourth driver sitting in the press conference and he said his rivals would feel better about the event once they made the decision to compete in it.
“Well, they need to commit to the race. I think if they just want to do a test they will never do the race after testing the car, because it feels quite bad. It feels quite difficult.
“The car is self-steering to the left, you go on the straights and you are turning right and it feels very weird to drive the car, but then in the race it is just a different thing. You wake up your competitive instinct and you forget about all these weird things that those cars have and it’s a lot of fun. It’s part of history.
“I think the biggest thing is to go out of your comfort zone and drive something that you don’t feel ready to handle, ready to control and that adrenaline is magic.”