Sport Motorsport Ricciardo on the loose: Australian sport’s joker pranks Lewis Hamilton
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Ricciardo on the loose: Australian sport’s joker pranks Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo
Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo grab a selfie in Japan. Photo: EPA
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Having secured his ninth podium of the Formula One season, Aussie Daniel Ricciardo was always going to be in high spirits after the Japanese Grand Prix. Someone should have warned Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton took a stranglehold on the world championship with his win at Suzuka, but if he thought he was due some respect from Ricciardo, he had another thing coming.

As the champagne splashed and the Australian’s second-placed teammate Max Verstappen celebrated with Hamilton, Ricciardo took the opportunity to lift the Briton’s mobile phone and access his Instagram account.

The resulting social media posts immediately went viral as Ricciardo’s cross-eyed post captured the imagination of motorsport fans worldwide.

Ricciardo had been in in good form even as he flew to Japan, much to the chagrin of his Red Bull teammate, who awoke in Tokyo to discover a none-too-flattering picture of himself with mouth agape had somehow made its way to Instagram.

Asleep at the wheel: Daniel Ricciardo pranks his teammate Max Verstappen. Photo: Instagram

Formula One drivers have been keen social media users in recent years and the sport’s new US owners Liberty Media have been keen to emphasise that digital media is a potential growth market.

To this end, Ricciardo has been a godsend, with his podium ‘shoey’ celebrations (drinking champagne from his sweaty shoe) and his breezy team communications earning him a legion of fans beyond Australia.

His regular Sunday night flight videos posted to his @danielricciardo Twitter handle and website danielricciardo.com have become required viewing for anyone wanting a glimpse inside the F1 bubble.

Indeed, the affable Ricciardo is probably the only high-profile sportsman who could get away with his showpiece at the notorious press conference post-race at Singapore.

In stifling humidity, the thickness of the air was made no better by Ricciardo’s non-too-subtle passing of wind, just as Valtteri Bottas was about to speak.

The Ricciardo show is back on the road again at Austin, Texas, on October 23, an event the Australian has said is one of his favourite of the year and has in the past featured wild west-themed Ricciardo facial hair and shenanigans with whips and bulls.

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