Daniel Ricciardo returns to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve this weekend as the last man to win a Canadian Grand Prix, but the Australian insists that he doesn't need memories of last year's race to get him pumped up.
The Red Bull ace is an unabashed member of the Ile Notre Dame venue, and taking a surprise win there twelve months ago only served to raise his level of affection for a track that he variously describes as 'risky' and 'fun'.
Ricciardo's 2014 victory came against the odds as the all-conquering Mercedes team ran into reliability problems with both its cars, but the Australian was already enamoured by the venue.
“Possibly winning has made me love it a little bit more but, really, I've loved it since my first lap, back when I was driving for Toro Rosso,” he conceded in the build-up to the grand prix, “I remember coming back into the pits and saying 'what a circuit' - I was amazed at how good it was and I'd only done an install!
“It's just a ridiculous amount of fun. You can jump across the kerbs and really get the car bouncing around. It's like getting back to go-kart days, you really feel like you own it – and I love that. You can get aggressive with it, and aim to just brush the wall. There's a lot of risk but that brings a lot of adrenaline with it. It'd be wonderful if you were doing it in isolation but, with 100,000 screaming fans urging you on, it's just mega!”
Whether winning the grand prix qualifies Ricciardo as a potential victim for the infamous 'Wall of Champions' remains to be seen, but the Aussie admits that you have to walk the fine line between risk and reward to get the most out of the circuit.
“It's a clear choice,” he insisted, “Some guys will play it safe and sacrifice half a tenth to get through there cleanly; others will take a risk and go flat out trying to find a little bit. The nearer you are, the faster you'll go. Give the wall a kiss and you feel pretty good: Kiss it too hard and that's it!”
Ricciardo heads to Canada sitting seventh in the championship standings after a tough start to the season for Red Bull and may find that the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve's long straights prove a little too much for the team's Renault V6s. Whatever the result, however, he knows that he will enjoy the event.
“The whole city gets involved in the race and you get the impression that the grand prix is really embraced,” he noted, “I was very restrained [after winning last year] and in bed by 1.30am. There's a point where the adrenaline wears off and suddenly you're absolutely exhausted. I remember falling into bed, thinking 'wow, crazy day' and out went the lights. Fortunately, the crew are made of sterner stuff and kept the party going, although they were not a pretty sight at breakfast the following day...”