‘They’re close to being stalkers’: Daniel Ricciardo on Japanese fans

The Japanese Grand Prix returned in 2022, having previously not featured on the calendar since 2019.

The Japanese Grand Prix is a favourite amongst both fans and drivers, with the recently retired Sebastian Vettel claiming that an appearance in Suzuka is the only thing that could ever tempt him to return to Formula 1.

The race at Suzuka did not feature on the race calendar in 2020 or 2021 due to COVID concerns before returning last season in style.

In controversial circumstances, Max Verstappen was crowned world champion after a delayed race in the rain, after the percentage of points awarded was hotly debated by teams and officials.

The Japanese fans are also known as some of the most passionate in the world, with their knowledge and obsession over F1 making the Japanese Grand Prix a phenomenal event.

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When appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, new Red Bull third driver Daniel Ricciardo has revealed just what the Japanese fans are like.

“So I mean, Australians and Americans are very similar,” he said.

“I feel like just very rowdy, fun, like let’s hang for a beer later.

“But then you have, I think like the real fun one as well is Japan because you have complete both sides, where they’re the most intense and knowledgeable, like to a point where they’re close to being stalkers, but then they’re also respectful and polite.

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“So that’s a really interesting one as well!”

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Ricciardo will be getting a lot more up close and personal with the fans in 2023, as his role as Red Bull’s third driver will see him take part in a number of promotional events and show runs for the team.

The Australian’s potentially final appearance in Japan last season ended in heartbreak for Ricciardo, as he finished in 11th place and missed out on the final point scoring position to his teammate Lando Norris.

The 33-year-old will hope that he is able to race in Suzuka again, claiming that his upcoming year with Red Bull is all a part of his plan to return to the grid in 2024.