Daniel Ricciardo says that he still gets “goose bumps” when he thinks he faced Michael Schumacher at the beginning of his career.
The Australian spent a season and a half in the same field as the seven-time former world champion in 2011 and 2012, racing for HRT and then for Toro Rosso.
Schumacher was of course in the second and third year of his return from retirement at Mercedes before he finally retired from the sport at the end of 2012.
Though Ricciardo, now 32, remains a rival to another seven-time world champion in Lewis Hamilton, he was somewhat impressed by the German when he arrived on stage and fondly remembers an occasion when the duo competed against each other on the track.
“To know that I was once in the same field of drivers as Michael Schumacher in Formula 1 is unbelievable for me,” said Ricciardo in an interview with Sport Bild.
“I remember one of my first races in Suzuka, I had a short duel with him. It was like a game of cat and mouse on the track. That was really unreal. I enjoyed every second.
“Michael had already won seven world titles. He is the god of this sport.
“After the race, my father took me aside for a moment and talked about the duel. He said, ‘Do you have any idea what just happened?’ I had to let that take effect first.
“When I get older, I think back to moments like this. My God, now that I tell you, I just get goosebumps again. “
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Together with a handful of other drivers in Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Räikkönen and Fernando Alonso, Ricciardo has now had the experience of racing against Schumacher Senior and Junior, with Michael’s son Mick driving halfway through his debut season with the Haas team.
Ricciardo first met Mick three years after his father was seriously injured in a skiing accident. Since then, his health has been kept secret at the family’s request.
“I met Mick in 2016 at his charity soccer game. Somehow I immediately had the feeling that I just wanted to be nice to him, ”said Ricciardo.
“He should feel my deep respect, his father is such a legend. So there was a good chemistry between us right from the start, because he’s a really nice boy too.
“Nobody should think that Mick is in Formula 1 just because of his name. Everything I see of him shows me that he deserves his place here with us. He works so hard and I am impressed with his performance. “