His broad trademark smile is the reflection of his happy soul, but there are times in life when Daniel Ricciardo’s emotions are deeply stirred the other way.
One such moment occurred in the summer of 2015, after the passing of Jules Bianchi, when the young Marussia driver succumbed to the traumatic head injury he had sustained in the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.
As young guns who often fought wheel-to-wheel in the junior ranks, Bianchi and Ricciardo knew each other well, and built a friendship on the back of their on-track rivalry.
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The Aussie recalls how the Frenchman’s passing impacted him personally.
“A lot happened in 2015, more on a personal level, with life,” Ricciardo revealed in his last Red Bull Racing podcast.
“Jules’ passing affected me more than I ever would have thought. I had a few other things going on in my life at that time that in a way shaped me into this next version of who I am.
Bianchi was laid to rest, accompanied by many of his F1 colleagues, just days before the Hungarian Grand Prix.
“The first race back was Budapest and that was my first podium that year, a double podium for the team, and I remember the whole weekend was very emotional.
“To get a podium there felt massive, it was a huge relief and a moment of gratitude.”
The seven-time Grand Prix winner, undisputedly one of the sport’s most popular figures, will start a new chapter in his F1 career in 2019, as he moves to the works Renault outfit after five season with Red Bull Racing.
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