Daniel Ricciardo has revealed that he sometimes feels the need to talk to himself to ease the tension while sharing the pre-podium green room with Mercedes rivals Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
Such is the enduring enmity between the two title contenders that they tend to avoid sharing small talk before heading out to accept the accolades of the crowd and more silverware for the trophy cabinet in Brackley – and that makes being in their company more than a little awkward for the ever-smiling Ricciardo.
The Australian has five podium finishes to his name so far this season, including four in the last five races, and on three of those occasions has shared the limelight with the Mercedes drivers, splitting them in both Singapore and Belgium.
"The best part is, if you get on the podium with them two, in the room before we go out on the podium just after the race, you take the helmet off and it's awkward for me because it's just so silent," Ricciardo told Sky Sports
, "I don't like silence too much, so I'm like trying to either talk to myself or make conversation with them, but they are just happy enjoying the awkward silence. It's quite fun."
Sharing the podium with Hamilton and Rosberg has given Ricciardo plenty of opportunity to assess which might be stronger heading into the championship showdown – and, for the first time, he gives a nod in a slightly unexpected direction.
"When Lewis made up that deficit to Nico and came back it was like 'okay, nobody's going to touch Lewis," third overall Ricciardo acknowledged, "However, Nico's come back... and I'm going to throw a spanner in the works and pick Rosberg."
The Red Bull driver will hope to join both pre-race favourites Hamilton and Rosberg on the podium at next weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix and the race in Japan which follows immediately afterwards.
“Malaysia, physically, is a hot one,” he noted, “We usually go there at the beginning of the season, so it is going to be interesting going there now with a lot more development on the car and seeing how it performs. I checked the weather and it seems pretty constant all year round so that shouldn't change much, but Sepang has been resurfaced so that could be interesting for tyre life.
“I like back to backs and both Malaysia and Japan are very challenging circuits. Japan I have always loved as it's tough for a driver, a proper racer's circuit. The first section you have to connect all the dots because all the corners flow really nicely if you get it right.”
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