Ricciardo reveals increasing angst ahead of Oz GP: 'I was no longer comfortable'

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Daniel Ricciardo has revealed he was increasingly uncomfortable with the Australian Grand Prix going ahead as the coronavirus situation worsened.

As European countries began to follow China's lead by enforcing a lockdown and other nations increased travel restrictions, Formula 1 gave the go-ahead for teams to make the long trip to Melbourne for the season-opener.

Of course, for Ricciardo, his trip was a lot shorter crossing the Australian bite from Perth but even the excitement of his home race wasn't completely hiding his internal fears.

“I definitely had some tunnel vision because Melbourne is such a busy and chaotic race,” he told The Age.

“I hadn’t given too much thought to the whole corona situation but deep down I had some concerns. We were definitely playing with fire.

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“You start replaying every interaction you had, who you spoke to, where you were … it was easy to get paranoid. Even a few weeks earlier we were all in Barcelona testing, there were no restrictions, typically everyone has a cold at that time of year in Europe … your mind definitely wanders."

And while the media duties of Wednesday and Thursday went ahead, though with some precautions, the Renault driver highlighted two moments his mind was made up on what should happen.

“Once we got closer to the race and when you saw what was going on with other sports like the NBA, I was definitely thinking no, we absolutely shouldn’t be doing this," he continued.

“The bombshell for me was really when I went to bed on Thursday night, and just before I went to sleep I saw McLaren had pulled out of the race, because of the case within their team.

“I then stayed up for probably another three hours trying to fish out a bit more information, but I knew then we weren’t going to race without a full grid.

“To be honest, I was no longer comfortable with it either; I was like, ‘look, this is the first race of the season, either we are all in it or we’re not, that’s just how it is’.”

It wasn't until less than two hours before Friday practice was due to start, however, that the final decision was taken to cancel, angering all fans who had turned up at the gate.

And Ricciardo understood their frustration as he too was also still somewhat in the dark. 

“From the outside, it’s easy to say [it could have been managed better], but even being on the inside … I’d be naive if I said I knew everything that was going on because so few of us did,” he said.

“We were all gutted that it didn’t go ahead and it was such a shame for everyone who works there, who goes as a spectator, for the people who wanted to watch it on TV, but it was 100 per cent the right call.

“The Sunday, as in race day in Melbourne, was strange because I was home. It was around race start time on the Sunday and I had a moment where I thought ‘man, I should be in an F1 car right now’ … it sucked.”