Ricciardo earns a drive in Earnhardt’s car, thinks about the army

Formula One F1 – Italian Grand Prix – Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza, Italy – September 12, 2021 Daniel Ricciardo of McLaren reacts on the podium after winning the race REUTERS/Massimo Pinca

September 13 (Reuters) – Daniel Ricciardo will get to drive his late idol Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s 1984 NASCAR Chevrolet Monte Carlo after winning Sunday’s Italian Formula One Grand Prix, but the smiling Australian could figure out a better deal.

McLaren Racing boss Zak Brown, who has the original number three Wrangler-liverid coupe in his collection, in March promised Ricciardo a trial in the car if he stood on the podium this season.

“I’m like, maybe he gives me the car?” The Australian, who runs with number three on his McLaren, said hopeful after a one-two finish with teammate Lando Norris at Monza on Sunday.

“It was always ‘a stage, I get to run it’. We never talked about winning.

“I gave him my shoe which he drank, so maybe he’ll give me the car. It’s a good trade.”

McLaren’s first win since Jenson Button in Brazil in November 2012 was Ricciardo’s victory after a 3,213-day wait.

It was also their first one-two since 2010.

For the second most successful team in Formula One history, second only to Ferrari, which has been around since the early 1950s in terms of wins and overall championships, Sunday was both a beginning and an end.

The end of a long agony of constant reminders of his absence from the top stage of the podium, a matching drought from former champion Williams, but also the beginning of a return to winning ways.

Ricciardo, who hasn’t won since being at Red Bull in 2018 and has had a hard time getting to grips with the car since leaving Renault at the end of last year, clearly explained the meaning.

“There are few things today, like two heroes,” he said.

“Dale Earnhardt, my big hero, and is crazy to have the chance to get behind the wheel of one of his cars. It’s definitely going to be a ‘pinch me’ moment.

“Second… I’m sorry if I sound a little self-absorbed now, but when I think of McLaren I think of (late triple champion Ayrton) Senna.

“It’s early memories and I’ve seen trophies in cabinet at MTC (factory) and now winning trophies in the same cabinet with my name in it is crazy.”

Brown, with his drivers to celebrate on the podium and swirling champagne with astonishing enthusiasm from Ricciardo’s sweaty boot, enjoyed the moment.

The American was also of the view that there was a long way ahead for McLaren to be where they really wanted to be.

“One win, and last weekend wasn’t great,” said the American. “So I guess we have to keep our feet on the ground. One win at a time.”

Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London Editing by Peter Rutherford

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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