Away from the track, Daniel Ricciardo has still found a way to take down McLaren young gun Lando Norris in humorous fashion.
Amid the ongoing COVID-19-induced break, Formula 1 drivers are among the thousands of athletes stranded worldwide with sports leagues on hold.
Ricciardo’s Renault team took to Instagram in a live Q&A featuring the Australian driver, who discussed how he is spending time on his family farm in Perth.
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Norris, a McLaren sophomore who only turned 20 at the backend of last year, popped into the live chat.
The young Briton has already fallen foul of Ricciardo’s antics, notably being reduced to tears in a pre-British Grand Prix press conference after Ricciardo teased with a highly personal question before copping more ahead of the Singapore race.
Norris has emerged as one of F1’s more online-active personalities, most recently being the face of the sport’s move to virtual racing with the live product currently on hold.
Having seen Norris enter the chat, Ricciardo didn’t give his junior much room to move: “He needs new name.
“I feel he’s like the tech-nerd of modern-day society.
“I’m not trying to be mean… but he’s everywhere on all the social platforms.”
Norris responded to two journalists’ tweets of Ricciardo’s comment, saying: “Hahah really, I got bored and left by that point…” and “more of a compliment I would say”.
Norris has played a key role in providing light relief amid the darkness of the coronavirus crisis. A keen gamer, Norris raced in the Veloce Esports edition on Sunday and was supposed to go straight into F1’s official event.
However, he was a notable absentee as technical issues kept him out of qualifying and the first part of the race.
It didn’t perturb viewers, with Norris’ Twitch stream bringing in over 100,000 watchers as he waited to be invited back into the session.
During his stream, Norris called fellow drivers. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, whom he often partners with in endurance sim racing events, teased with: “Don’t brake into Turn 1… take everyone out and then go backwards. Have you tried turning [your computer] off and on again?”
McLaren teammate Carlos Sainz and Williams driver and friend George Russell also received calls. All the while, the AI controlled Norris’ car in the race – he dubbed it ‘LandoBot’ – before he took over with five of the 14 laps remaining to finish fifth.
However, a collision with YouTube sim racer Jimmy Broadbent on the final corner of the final lap prompted a call with another friend, Red Bull’s Alex Albon, who was critical of the move.
Norris responded, joking about the real-life incident where Albon and Lewis Hamilton came to blows in last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix: “I don’t like the way you turned in on Lewis Hamilton in Brazil, all right? But you don’t have to get aggressive about it.”
The 20-year-old may loom as a key figure, like Ricciardo, in keeping spirits high in the period F1 may be out of action, with a restart as early as June still on the cards.
The cancellation of the Monaco Grand Prix hit Ricciardo hard as he grappled with the situation.
“I watched on an on-board of Monaco last night and got a little sad,” said the Australian.
“They’re all going to hurt, Melbourne of course being so close. But we’ll get it back.
“I’m thinking of qualifying last because I think [Turn 1 at the first race back] is going to be mayhem… I’m going to watch it all unfold and probably lead the first lap.”