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Ricciardo: F1's got its danger/safety balance spot on

Sep 2, 2021

Daniel Ricciardo says that Formula 1 has got the balance right between still having an element of danger and keeping drivers safe from serious injury or worse.

Inevitably, the lack of a proper race at Spa last weekend – the first event in the 71-year history of the world championship where no flying laps were completed due to the weather – has sparked a debate about drivers racing in tricky conditions in previous eras.

Asked about the days of Stirling Moss, and the contention that the sport should always contain an element of danger, Ricciardo insisted that times had changed.

"I mean there's definitely a change in mindset to it all,” he said. “Obviously I wasn't around in that era, but it was kind of normal to have fatalities and all that in the sport.

“I'm sure it was very hard to accept, but maybe because it was more regular it was somewhat expected.

“Now, knowing what we know, or at least what I know, would I have raced in the 60s? With the knowledge I have now, no.

“At the end of the day, it's a sport, so we like the risk, but if you're talking a matter of life and death, then I don't think that's worth anything.”

Ricciardo pointed to McLaren teammate Lando Norris’s qualifying accident as proof that drivers are still taking risks and can have major crashes. Norris escaped with just bruising after hitting the barriers at Raidillon in Q3.

“You look at Lando's crash on Saturday and I think he proved that you can still have a big one,” said Ricciardo. “And those conditions at the time, they were okay - well I say okay, on the edge, but obviously okay for us to have a green light.

“So I think we are still competing in a dangerous sport and playing on the edge of danger, but I think there's kind of danger and being unsafe and then there's the extreme of course with unnecessarily having people heli-aired out of here."

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Ricciardo said that conditions were so bad on Sunday that driver skill would have played little part in staying on the track.

“I'm not trying to sound smart here, it's probably just the easiest way for me to relay the message - it's kind of like physics.

“Simple physics that the car will just not stick, it won't stay on the road, and that's with 100% visibility, let alone with literally five per cent, so it gets to a threshold where it's no longer about skill, it's literally about the car will not stick to the track, that's probably the best way I can say it."

Asked if he would still do his job if he wasn’t paid, Ricciardo said: "On days like this? Yeah, you know what, maybe this is the age in me, but I do ask myself that question, and the answer is yes. And I think the day the answer is no is the day I have to stop racing.

“I am pretty good at checking myself on that, and as a kid I never did it to be on TV, to get paid money, it was because I loved it.

“The day that becomes outweighed or overpowered by the money or the fame or whatever it is, that's the day, definitely, I have enough self-awareness to say alright I'm done with this."

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