Daniel Ricciardo has recalled his battle with Michael Schumacher, and credited it for making him believe that he could cut it.
Schumacher’s last dance with F1 was in 2012, when he raced for Mercedes. At that time, a young Ricciardo had burst onto the scene with Toro Rosso. During the Japanese GP, he battled with the seven-time world champion.
At Suzuka, the Australian held off the German in the dying stages of the race after a fierce duel for a spot in the top ten. He did it for multiple laps, and came out the winner after an intense few minutes.
Ricciardo recalled his battle with Schumacher, and stated that winning out against the former Ferrari was a major confidence boost.
On The Helwani Show, Ricciardo said, “I had Michael Schumacher behind me.
“He was still racing when I started, which was surreal in itself. I still can’t really believe that because he was a hero of mine growing up.
“He was behind me and at the time he was in a better car and this and that, and he was also Michael Schumacher.
“I defended him for the last 10-15 laps and it was for the last point, so it was a top 10 which was big for me at that time in my career.
“It was then when I didn’t fall under the pressure and I wasn’t overwhelmed by the fact that it was Schumacher behind me. I knew that was an internal moment for me where I was like, ‘OK, I do have what it takes to sustain the pressure and everything’.”
Ricciardo also revealed what happened after the race, and how Schumacher congratulated him for his effort.
“Probably what was even cooler was at the following race, we have the drivers’ parade a couple of hours before the race and we’re all together going around and waving to the crowd and that,” he continued.
“He (Schumacher) came up to me — and I hadn’t really spoken to him yet — and he came up and goes, ‘Good job in Japan, you defended really well,’ and I was just like, ‘Wow, cool.’
“That was really the first moment where I was like, ‘OK, maybe I do belong,’” he concluded.