RACE DEBRIEF

    Formula 1 is set to race in Australia for the first time since 2019 – and the lone Aussie driver on the grid Daniel Ricciardo is chomping at the bit to get back to Melbourne, describing racing at home as a “privilege”.

    Ricciardo – who earlier this year was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2022 Australia Day Honours – has twice finished fourth at Albert Park but is yet to achieve a podium finish in Melbourne (although he did appear on the 2014 podium before receiving a penalty).

    However, the McLaren driver is excited to return home and is looking forward to the “awesome atmosphere” at the track.

    READ MORE: Ricciardo pleased by McLaren pace ahead of home race, despite DNF in Jeddah

    “I'm excited to go home, definitely, it's been a while,” said Ricciardo. “I've heard sales have been nuts and it's going to be an awesome atmosphere so I cannot wait.

    “Max [Verstappen] is cheering!” Ricciardo joked. “He's excited to go as well. It's personal to me because I am 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.

    “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.”

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    Ricciardo lost out on a podium at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix

    Since Formula 1 last raced at Albert Park, the track has indeed undergone changes, with the number of corners reduced from 16 to 14, while some of the corners that remain have been widened or reprofiled to improve racing. And Ricciardo – who was one of the drivers consulted on the changes – believes the alterations will “improve the spectacle on a Sunday” and “create more overtaking opportunities.”

    REVEALED: The track tweaks set to make Melbourne's Albert Park Circuit 5 seconds a lap quicker

    “I think with the new design at Albert Park, it's really focused on improving the racing, the spectacle on Sunday, to create more opportunities for overtaking,” said Ricciardo.

    “It's a beautiful circuit but it's always been quite narrow and tight, and therefore quite tricky to overtake on. So we've really tried to exploit some areas to allow more slipstreaming, to allow for more chances for overtaking under braking. So I think it’s going to be a different spectacle this time round.

    A Lap of the New Albert Park F1 Circuit

    “Us drivers, a bunch of us were consulted on this. We were allowed to give our thoughts and input… We might not all be aligned but I think the purpose of this is to make the Sunday better. I had that in mind when I gave my input.

    “If 2022 promises everything it does with being able to follow and the racing to be enhanced, then coming to a circuit like Albert Park with these changes should make a pretty amazing spectacle.”

    READ MORE: Vettel to make F1 return for Australian GP after missing opening two rounds of 2022

    Ricciardo will be hoping he and his McLaren team can put on a good performance for the Australian Grand Prix on April 10, with Ricciardo yet to get off the mark in 2022.

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