Ricciardo: Players twice my size

F1 duo takes part in high school American football practice ahead of US GP.

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Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen got kitted out in bespoke Red Bull Racing gear for a full two-hour American football practice session in Austin ahead of Sunday’s United States Grand Prix.

Located 10 minutes from the Circuit of the Americas, football is a serious business at Del Valle High School – home of the Cardinals – with a stadium that seats around 7,500.

The Formula 1 racers warmed up with high kicks before moving on to field goal attempts, evasion drills, throwing and receiving – all encouraged by some highly energetic cheerleading.

Neither driver is likely to be changing careers any time soon, but both really enjoyed themselves – though Daniel was somewhat surprised when the team coach warmed him up with a friendly head-butt.

It was very cool. I love ball sports and it’s always good to try something new.

Daniel Ricciardo
Red Bull Racing pilot

“I really liked the camaraderie. It’s great how sports here are such a big part of education. Actually, I got a bit too excited and I’ve lost my voice – lots of screaming and shouting – but a really great experience.”

When quizzed on his performance, this season’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix winner gave himself a pass.

He added, “I think I did OK! I think my catching was OK, the kicking and throwing… well, my catching was OK. I think they were being easy on me: they’re 16 or 17 years old and twice my size!”

For Malaysian Grand Prix winner, Max the experience was more of a step into the unknown – though he did manage to outshine his team-mate and kick a field goal.

The Dutchman revealed, “Well, yeah, it’s a first for me – in Holland we’re more famous for soccer – but it was a cool experience, and interesting to play with an egg-shaped ball.

“There was a real feeling of team spirit, and that’s always good. It’s very different from what we do in F1 – but like us, they have to work together to get a result and that’s no different.”

Having survived unscathed, attention now turns back to the Circuit of the Americas and Friday US GP practice.


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