Daniel Ricciardo has said he felt better after the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix as a result of him heading over to Ferrari and apologising to Carlos Sainz for the incident that put the Spaniard out of the race.
Having finished sixth in the sprint race – two positions behind Sainz – Ricciardo misjudged his braking point heading into the first corner in slippery conditions, and tagged the back of the Ferrari, sending him spinning into the gravel and out of the race.
The Australian also suffered diffuser damage which meant that, even after he had successfully taken the gamble to switch onto slick tyres, he was unable to make any meaningful progress through the field.
It was a miserable afternoon for the 32-year-old, but he swallowed his pride and went to see Sainz after the race to offer him an apology for the incident that ultimately sent the 27-year-old down to fifth in the Drivers’ Championship after Red Bull’s one-two and George Russell’s P4.
The eight-time race winner was asked if the apology stemmed from his desire to get on amicably with the other drivers despite the fierce competition in Formula 1, and he had a hilarious response.
“I hated every second of the apology,” he told Trevor Noah to an eruption of laughter.
Changing the tone, Ricciardo understands the hardship that drivers go through to even make it to the pinnacle of motorsport, so empathised with the fact that the 27-year-old had been sent out of the race because of his mistake.
“Again, I think probably… with experience and just being in [Formula 1] for so long I know I have the maturity now to know how much we all put into it,” he explained.
“As competitive as we are, we all have something strongly in common and there’s only 20 of us in the world that do it.
“You just respect everyone’s journey and so if I hold myself accountable for something, then I feel like I want to just apologise, and it’s nothing personal.”
The apology helped the McLaren racer to surmount the anguish, and divulges that it has extinguished the possibility of hard feelings the next time he is racing Sainz on track.
“I don’t think everyone would do it but for me I just felt better doing it so we kind of cleaned the slate for the next one and I know that when we come alongside each other on the track next there’s no intensity… there’ll be an intensity but nothing heightened I guess,” he added.
The Spaniard appreciated Ricciardo coming over the apologise to him even after he himself had suffered a calamitous afternoon, and he maintains that there are “no hard feelings” over the incident.
“It says much about Daniel as an athlete and as a person that immediately after a race, where you could see he’s had a tough one, the first thing he did was come to the Ferrari box and apologise to me,” he said, quoted by Autosport.
“The whole mechanics [were] there with me and we all thanked him for the gesture, so that’s why there’s no hard feelings with Daniel because of what happened.
“It could happen to anyone out there, but unfortunately it had to happen to me.”
While Ricciardo ended the race 18th, team-mate Lando Norris capitalised on a mistake by Charles Leclerc to claim a podium, epitomising McLaren’s strong progress since the opening round of the season in Bahrain.