The Big Break: Ricciardo's Report

Eleven grands prix down and we're breaking up for half term. That means a desperate race against time to catch our drivers for a quick mid-season download before they switch off their mobile phones and post out of office auto email replies as they head for whatever uber-luxury hills they've chosen to spend the break in.

Luckily, we managed to set up a tight perimeter around the Budapest paddock on Sunday and caught Daniel as he tried to tunnel out in order to get his thoughts on the season so far, getting into a cold sweat in Austria and what he think about the shape of future F1...

How would you summarise the first half of the season?
It started off on a heavy back foot but we've started to find our stride now and I've definitely enjoyed the second part of the first half of the season a lot more than the first bit. I feel like I'm driving well and also everyone is kind of getting in a happier place than they were five months ago.

You had the five podiums in a row. Which was the most enjoyable for you?
I still think Baku – that was pretty awesome. Even if I had finished third there, as opposed to winning, I still think that would have been my favourite because it was just a crazy, crazy race. But Monaco I enjoyed as well, Austria... I've enjoyed a few lately, but Baku was the one.

It looked like you had to fight quite hard for the one in Austria and the celebration was almost like you enjoyed that more than the win in Baku.
Yeah, the relief crossing the line was bigger in Austria, just to get the podium in a place we didn't think we would, to do it in front of Red Bull and to hold off Hamilton, all that was like "yeah!" And the last couple of laps, when he started to get close... it sounds really weird, but I started to get sweat in my hair and it went in my eyes. That was like the icing on the cake in terms of how much of a test it was. I was like 'oh great' and when I got it done I was just like 'yes!' It was funny.

We've kept you busy with plenty of other stuff this season. What's been the most enjoyable thing you've done away from the track this year?
The caravan was cool. They were funny. Me and Max were pissing ourselves. That was probably the funniest. But I did enjoy the rafting in Canada and I did enjoy the ice hockey [in Austria] very much. Fortunately we've done some cool stuff. Thank you Red Bull for being the cool brand you are!

Looking a long way ahead, next year you're going to be racing with the Halo system. Are you a fan of it?
I was in favour of head protection. Do I think the Halo is the best thing? I'm not convinced. It's difficult. All I've heard so far from fans is negative comments so that worries me. I know we are the ones in the car and our safety is important, but at the same time... obviously it won't happen, but if every fan suddenly walked away from Formula One there wouldn't be any F1 probably. I'm surprised they pulled the trigger on it because not everyone was in favour of it.

Do you think it will evolve in terms of aesthetics when teams really get to grips with it rather than simply bolting on the test version?
Yeah, a bit like when new cars came in after 2008 or something, there were big front wings with tall, skinny rear wings. I thought the cars looked ugly as anything and I was like 'that's not the F1 I know'. But, you kind of got used to it. I'm sure the Halo will look better than it does now and people will get used to it. We'll see.

It's summer break time. What are you planning?
I'm heading Stateside. I've got my family coming out, so it'll be part relaxing with family and then part enjoying myself and letting my hair down. So looking forward to that... and then I'll come back for Spa and get on the podium.