Daniel Ricciardo on Japanese fans: ‘Close to being stalkers, but so respectful and polite!’

Henry Valantine
Daniel Ricciardo arrives at the track. F1 Suzuka October 2022.

McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo arrives at the circuit. Suzuka October 2022.

Daniel Ricciardo was asked about what different Formula 1 fans are like around the world, and he put the knowledge and passion of Japanese F1 fans right at the top – “to a point where they’re close to being stalkers, but then they’re also so respectful and polite.”

Different cultures and levels of support are on show all around the world as Formula 1 takes its global circus around different countries every year, and there are several highlights for drivers and fans alike on the calendar.

When asked what Formula 1 fans are like in different places during an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert ahead of Red Bull’s car launch in New York, Ricciardo pinpointed that the race-goers at Suzuka are among the most “intense and knowledgeable” around, to quite a degree – though they always remain respectful.

“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 so respectful and polite! So that’s a really interesting one as well.”

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Once the Red Bull livery itself was launched at Manhattan’s Classic Car Club on Friday, the team’s third driver said he was pleased to be back at his former team after his departure for Renault four years ago.

He confirmed his plans will be to appear at selected races as Red Bull’s reserve this season, starting at home in Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix, alongside simulator work back at the team’s Milton Keynes base and marketing work.

Ricciardo admitted his jealousy at seeing the team’s success from the outside while McLaren were firmly left in the midfield last season, but he was pleased to see his former colleagues make their way back to the pinnacle of Formula 1.

“It’s like returning home, and in this kind of second phase in my career, it feels warm and cosy,” Ricciardo said at the car launch. “A lot of familiar faces, and yeah, back in the family – a lot of fond memories.

“I mean, at the time, I was definitely envious because I was competing against them last year, but it was honestly really cool to see.

“The start of the season was like nip and tuck, with the battle with Ferrari as well, and then the way that Red Bull was able just to kind of continue to press on through the year and ultimately dominate, really, the second half of the season was really impressive.

“You know, so many members of the team I worked with and I was so happy for, and really cool to see them back on top.”